By John Owoo
In Accra – Ghana
A group of artists who participated in a Mobile Museum project that covered nearly 10,000 kilometers by bus – from Nigeria to Senegal to participate in the ongoing Dak Art Biennial – last week shared their experiences at the Goethe-Institut in Accra.
Curated by the Nigerian / German artist Emeka Udemba, the journey began in Nigeria and moved through Benin, Togo, Ghana, La Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali before arriving in the Senegalese capital Dakar for the biennial.
Dubbed “Stretched Terrains”, it is a mobile artist residency project inside a bus, which has been transformed into a rolling art space. Throughout the journey, the artists examined diverse public spaces as communication zones of social and political interaction as they travelled through forests and deserts of West Africa.
Briefing a group of artists and art lovers, Udemba said traditional concepts of museums and public spaces do not necessarily work in most African countries the way they should adding that everyone needs culture and not only people with access to museums.
Udemba, Dame Diongue (Senegal), Soulayman Konate (La Côte d’Ivoire), Ray-Claver Agbo (Ghana), Monsuro Alashe (Nigeria) and Gabriel Goller (Germany) narrated the challenges, frustrations, experiences and more importantly inspirations that will guide their work in the near and distant future.
Challenges at border crossings, harassment by police, corruption, lush forests, plantations, deserts, baobab trees, bus breakdowns and interactions with inhabitants of remote villages among others will serve as a reference point for future work by the artists.
During the long drive, the artists equally experimented on ideas and areas they will normally not touch on when working in their studios, unearthed hidden talents and abilities while developing concepts for individual and collaborative work through memorable experiences.
On arrival in the Senegalese capital Dakar, the artists participated in the ongoing biennial, interacted with artists and finalized works created on the road for an exhibition / presentations at the Goethe-Institut in Dakar.
Supported by Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines Africa, “Stretched Terrains” was organized by Goethe-Institut Nigeria in co-operation with the Goethe-Institutes in Ghana, Togo, La Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and the German-Malian Cultural Centre in Bamako.