Internationally acclaimed ethnomusicologist, Emeritus Prof Kwabena Nketia last week launched a 217-page art book realized through collaboration by Professors Irene Odotei and Lisa Meier at the Goethe-Institut in Accra.
Titled “Funeral Fashion in Ghana”, it vigorously captures through images and text, the richness and diversity of funeral cultures in Ghana while laying bare influences from religion, development and technology.
A costume design lecturer at the University of the Arts in Berlin (Germany), Meier’s images emanate a kind of cumulative manuscript that point to a record of traditional and contemporary funeral history, whose significance may be found after a close and detailed scrutiny.
What appear to be systematic photos of diverse scenes from numerous funerals show Meier, who is a native of Switzerland – as a photographer who approaches her work in equal parts – as she cautiously strides time and characteristics to repost the history of a splendid tradition.
Indeed, her work with funeral fashion tends to stand at the interface of tradition and modernity. Meier presents vivid images of mourners in assorted traditional and contemporary clothes with an incredible attention to detail in respect of designs on the fabrics.
Despite an intense, technical and inventive technique to showcase the substance of funeral fashion, she equally captures religious ceremonies, traditional rites, parade of chiefs, firing of musketry and music / dance performances.
Text by Odotei, a worldwide-celebrated historian and currently the president of the Historical Society of Ghana, is replete with information on Ghanaian funerals. An acclaimed authority on the subject, she offers a brilliant analysis to satisfy intellectual as well as other appetites.
A former head of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana (Legon), she brings to the fore, the multiplicity and complexity of funerals, connotation of clothes as well as the perceptible and imperceptible cultural heritage of Ghana.
With meticulously chosen parts of the funeral culture in Ghana, Odotei takes us back to history (where she belongs) and calculatedly brings us back to contemporary times through a concise brief on the use technology – such as the internet and mobile phones
The art book publisher, “Edition Patrick Frey”, which is based in Switzerland, released “Funeral Fashion in Ghana”. As partners of the project, the Goethe-Institut in Ghana is organizing and supporting the launch.