By John Owoo
(At the Museum of Science & Technology)
“Orderly Disorderly” – A three-month long exhibition that completes a trilogy of large-scale end of academic year exhibitions terminated last week at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra.
Organized by blaxTARLINES KUMASI, a contemporary art incubator project at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST – Kumasi), it features works by fresh graduates, alumni and guests – both dead and alive.
It combines political attitudes and principles underlying Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s practice – notably “The Bread and the Alley” (1970), “Orderly or Disorderly” (1981) and “The Chorus” (1982) as well as the Ghanaian academic Dr. karïkachä seid’ou’s emancipatory art pedagogy.
Undeniably, dozens of artworks that have inundated three floors of the Museum investigate how pre independence practices has expanded and evolved in recent years while boldly showcasing the new spirit of the College of Art and Sculpture, KNUST.
“Orderly Disorderly” is certainly not about aesthetics or artistic techniques – it is a serious comment on diverse issues ranging from political, social, religious, security and cultural crises that has bedeviled the world at large.
The exhibition is far from elitist – indeed, it has opened its doors not only to art lovers but also the general public at large with students and lecturers regularly at hand to guide visitors while providing information.
It features some of the first generation of Ghana’s post-independence artists, who were given the challenge of linking the emerging economy of Ghana to its rich and glorious traditions with contemporary issues.
Tucked on a wall behind an installation, one cannot fail to notice two paintings by the acclaimed modernist Prof. Ablade Glover (whose is being honoured with the exhibition), with thick layered crowds that tend to glow from a distance while skillful brush strokes accumulate mass in radiant lights and shade.
Paintings of nude and semi nude women by veteran painter Kofi Dawson show influences from his time at the Slade School of Art (UK) while reminding viewers of Ghanaian art in the 1960s. His works generally show him as a remarkable designer with a flamboyant post-impressionist aesthetic.
Giant sculpture pieces by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts (KNUST), Dr. Edwin Bojawah are crafted from discarded lithographic plates and aluminum roofing sheets which he assembles through techniques from multi layered processes embedded in African mask systems.
Two-sided fabrics by Dorothy Amenuke comprise cotton, jute fibre and raw cotton fillings that hang loosely in the giant hall. On close observation, blown up sections of the material become visible, while making subtle allusions to tools in her studio.
Comprising tree branches, clay, square wire meshes, nails and binding wires, an intense installation by Esther Anokye, inspired by children’s uninhibited drawings inundate the first floor and is quick to catch the attention of the visitor.
Livingstone Amoako reminds us of the sharp depletion of forest reserves in the country by stitching snail shells on columns and floor of the museum. The piece is nostalgic as it recalls how snails abound during the rainy season in his village as a young boy.
Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi (aka CrazinisT artisT), who is noted for his nude performances, continues his focus on conditions of feebleness and susceptibility of marginalized people with a recapitulation of his “nazaKU” photographic installation and performance, which among others call corrupt systems in the world to order.
Grotesque installations of severed cattle horns – which are strung together, dry and fast decaying – comment on the excruciating journeys faced by cattle when transported from Northern Ghana as well as brutal forms of slaughtering, a practice, which is widespread in the country.
Silas Mensah imitates layouts and designs of urban present-day residences by painting fabrics with manganese dioxide obtained from discarded alkaline batteries and diverse clays while sticking them with cassava starch and gum binder, which hung loosely on one of the walls of the museum.
The fight against galamsey (illegal mining) and its attendant health issues is taken on by Praises Adu Benhene, who showcased decommissioned costumes of galamsey miners, which have been preserved in their natural state with accumulation of dirt, oils, sweat, dust, fungi among others.
Larry Akuma invites us to childhood enchantments and fantasies with an interpretation of Akan mythical characters including the famous / infamous Kweku Ananse, which was realized in clay, iron rods and chicken wires. He allows grasses and weeds to germinate from cracks and boxes nearby while folk music engulfs the area around the piece.
Large-scale installations from non-descript discarded processed food cans by Kwame Asante Agyare turn into a huge “water fall” as it dangles from the roof of the museum. The piece, which is found elsewhere in the museum, criticizes the excesses of consumerism.
Undeniably, “Orderly Disorderly”, which took the city of Accra by storm for three months has Dr. karïkachä seid’ou, Kweku Boafo Kissiedu and Goerge Ampratwum as artistic directors with Bernard Akoi Jackson, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo, Selorm Kudjie and Patrick Nii Okanta Ankrah as curators.
Friends of balxTARLINES and the Department of Painting and Sculpture at KNUST sponsored the exhibition.