By John Owoo
(In Bamako – Mali)
A group from the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology KNUST (Ghana) was on Monday engaged in a panel discussion on the 21st Century Emancipatory Pedagogy in Africa in the Malian capital Bamako.
The team, which is in Bamako for the 12th edition of Rencontres de Bamako (African Photographic Biennial) that was opened last Saturday by the Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, dilated on the liberation conduit, which they have taken for nearly a decade.
Led by Dr. karî’kachä seid’ou, the group, which include Dr. Edwin Bodjawah, Robin Riskin, Ibrahim Mahama, Selorm Kudjie, Afranie Bediako, Selasi Sosu, Eric Gyamfi, Edward Onsoh, Tracy Thompson, Edward Onsoh and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, enumerated the successful transformation of weather beaten colonial curricula that has remarkably expanded the range of artistic practices in Ghana.
These include lens-based and durational formats, extra-pictorial practices such as curating systemic forms of local artisanship, site and context-specific projects, among others. It equally encourages artists to curate their own exhibitions and also fosters independent thinking, political sensitivity to the workings of the global marketplace alongside cutting-edge exhibition cultures and emergent practices.
Touching on blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Dr. seid’ou stated that is an experimental contemporary art community and network that is constantly energizing the radical repositioning, which has without doubt steered the Department of Painting and Sculpture at KNUST towards an unrestricted philosophy.
The collectivist orientation of blaxTARLINES has also inspired networking initiatives, which has led to the formation of start-ups and micro-communities with both local and international partners. These include Savanna Centre for Contemporary Art (Tamale), which was set up by the internationally acclaimed artist Ibrahim Mahama.
blaxTARLINES has both local and international affiliates – these include Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana, @thestudioaccra, Städelschule, Exit Frame and Asafo Black among others. Indeed, it has organized three large-scale exhibitions, which took place in Kumasi and Accra.
Panel members equally shared their work with the audience and discussed their inspirations, which were largely triggered by the emancipatory pedagogy. Works by some of these artists have been shown in Accra / Kumasi (Ghana), Venice (Italy), Kassel (Germany), Stellenbosch (South Africa) and Manchester (United Kingdom).
Undeniably, blaxTARLINES inspired exhibition-making practices coupled with the Emancipatory Art Teaching project instigated by Dr. seid’ou, has resulted in a transformation in the Ghanaian visual arts landscape.