“Nkabom” on display at Dakar Biennial 2022

by • June 15, 2022 • FeaturedArticle, NewsComments (0)224

By John Owoo

(In Dakar – Senegal)

Creative works by three Ghanaian artists, Rita Mawuena Benissan, Kuukua Eshun and Kwasi Darko are currently on show at the IFAN Museum of African Arts in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

Dubbed “Nkabom” and curated by the award-winning Ghanaian filmmaker / historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim, the show explored diverse facets of community and association through royal umbrellas, a film on black diasporans and installations on the involvement of people in public places.

Loosely translated as “to come together”, “Nkabom” forms an integral part of the indigenous knowledge system and ontologies that have historically emphasized the importance of coming together in community and collectivity, rather than individuality and separation.

Giant and colourful umbrellas installed by Benissan are replete with history, symbolism and elegance.  Touched with adinkra symbols, drums and human figures, their presence in the museum created an aura that was topped up by their majestic presence.  

Obviously more than a sun sheltering device, the adornments that perch on top of the umbrellas are the most intricate and grandiose on the African continent. Often crafted in wood and depicting various totemic animals, they are covered and embellished with gold. 

Installations of brightly painted car doors by Darko comment on how people engage in public urban spaces in Ghana. The doors, which are in multiple colours are set against walls painted in the colours of the Ghanaian flag.

He pastes images from the streets of people engaged in diverse activities on the windows of these discarded doors while including texts he equally finds in communal spaces, which have become diverse and widespread owing to the fact that most cities are progressing into megapolises. 

Eshun, an award winning Ghanaian / American artist, explored the reconnection of women of African descent with the earth through a new film titled “Born of the Earth”, which highlights scenes of beauty and susceptibility in relation to womanhood.

Noted for a dramatic use of colour and light in her work – Eshun, who is also a writer / poet, has also raised awareness on social and mental health through her writings and films, which have been widely published.

The exhibition, which forms part of the 14th edition of Dak Art Biennial, ends on Tuesday June 21, 2022.

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