Ibrahim Mahama was a guest of Outset Bialik Residency on November-December 2016 for the installation of his site specific work “Fracture” at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, curated by Ruth Direktor.
Ibrahim Mahama, born in 1987 in Tamale, Ghana, studied art at the Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, and lives and works in
Accra, Ghana. Ghana was the first African state to receive independence, in 1957.
Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, established trade relations with various
countries and oversaw the construction of many monumental buildings, most of
which are deserted today. Mahama applies jute sacks to these buildings: he
covers them, inside and out, while pointing to their rich history, and gives them
a new life.
Wherever he arrives, whether Accra, Venice, Michigan—and now
Tel Aviv—Mahama thrusts these used jute sacks, with their blurred “Produce of
Ghana” stamp, onto local architecture. In the case of Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s
Lightfall, the gap between the elegant, angular structure and the jute’s rough,
ragged texture is almost the tension and friction between the first and the third
worlds. The fracture, as the installation is titled, applies both to the architectural
bevels that punctuate the space and to the fractures and fissures in the places from
which the sacks hail.
The raw materials with which Ibrahim Mahama works are jute sacks made in
India or Bangladesh and shipped to Africa through Brazil. In Ghana they are used
for transporting cocoa or coffee and can be found in almost every household as
food receptacles. Having fulfilled their role in the food market, they then drift on
to the coal industry. Mahama extricates these jute sacks from their utilitariannomad
life cycle and transposes them into the world of art, where they become
politically charged materials by the very reason of representing human sweat—
global economy’s production means.
The stamp “Produce of Ghana” peers from the jute sacks through patches of dirt
and grease, tears and stitches and stamps of their various trading companies.
Flattened and depleted of physical cargo, the sacks manifest the vestiges of
the hurls they underwent between their countries of production, transit and
destination, and bear the ownership signs of companies and states like branding
on the bodies of slaves. Their mobility is an expression of the global market;
the scratches, tears and cuts reflect the price African countries actually pay for
globalism’s illusion of abundance.
Curator: Ruth Direktor
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
December 2016 – June 2017
Link to the exhibition page at Tel Aviv Museum of Art