« Ghana, Who Knows Tomorrow » par Nii Obodai, Bruno Boudjelal et Lyle Ashton Harris


Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, From 18:30-21:30

Book launches of « Who Knows Tomorrow » by Nii Obodai and Bruno Boudjelal & Lyle Ashton Harris’s « Excessive Exposure »

Opening exhibition of « Ghana, Who Knows Tomorrow »

« Who Knows Tomorrow », published by Les Édition de l’OEil with support from the French Embassy in Ghana, is collaboration between Nii Obodai and Bruno Boudjelal. The book, dedicated to Obodai’s father, Henry Sonny Provencal, the first mayor of Accra, is a photographic examination of the country’s enthralling urban and rural landscape. The
collective work of these two artists vividly portrays their experiences within the vibrant spaces of Ghana and at the same time illuminates its historical position as a leader in African independence.

Lyle Ashton Harris’s « Excessive Exposure », published by Gregory R. Miller & Co., is a collection of « chocolate colored » portraits taken by Harris over the span of a decade with a 20 x 24-inch large format Polaroid camera. Subjects included in the book range from Harris’s
friends and family to renowned artists and cultural luminaries including Kwame Anthony Appiah, Yoko Ono, Chuck Close among almost two hundred other subjects.
« Excessive Exposure » includes an essay by international curator Okwui Enwezor and an introduction by the distinguished Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. With the dark and subdued chiaroscuro aesthetic of this series, Harris continues to redraw the boundaries of the
photographic portrait and deepens his ongoing artistic and cultural investigations of gender, ethnicity and identity.

« Ghana, Who Knows Tomorrow » is an exhibition of new photographic work by Lyle Ashton Harris, Nii Obodai and Bruno Boudjelal. This work initiates a new dialogue on contemporary visual representation of Ghana, one with which Harris, Obodai and Boudjelal are engaged
through their photographic investigations into Ghanaian culture. This creative endeavor calls for a new framework to represent Ghana in a global arts context, one in which photography is fundamental to conceptualizing the contemporary African experience.

Lyle Ashton Harris’s collective body of work titled « Ghana, » which premiered in New York early 2010 to critical recognition, was inspired by the cultural space taking shape in Ghana at the confluence of contemporary globalization and the rich local cultural traditions. These
works include Harris’s Jamestown Prison Erasure Images (2010), collages consisting of images of cars, women and other objects of desire forming visual conversation with wall collages by prisoners in a former colonial era fort, which at one time also held Kwame Nkrumah as a political prisoner prior to Ghana’s independence in 1957. Also included are the acclaimed Mobile Series (2005) that first appeared in The New York Times Magazine on January 1, 2005, accompanying Kwame Anthony Appiah cover story on cosmopolitanism.
For the first time Harris will be exhibiting portraits of prominent Ghanaian cultural and political figures, including the chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Rebecca Akufo-Addo, wife of Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP’s presidential candidate. Art
history scholar Senam Okudzeto has described this work as an « incredible set of portraits of the political elite-images that the national archive of Ghana should have on file. »

Nii Obodai will exhibit works from his collaborative project with Bruno Boudjelal. This will be the first major showing of these works in Ghana. Their observations, impressions, sensations and moments are dialectically presented through market crowds, historical
architecture, landscapes and candid portraits that capture the social realities of contemporary Ghana.

Included is Nii Obodai’s installation « 1966, » which includes thirty-six images that examine Ghana’s urban and rural spaces and resonates with the legend and legacy of Kwame Nkrumah. Through black and white images of areas abandoned after the overthrow of his
administration, this series was inspired by conversations with his father, Henry Sonny Provencal, the city’s first mayor and close aide to Kwame Nkrumah.

With a panoramic viewpoint, Nii’s Obodai series « Galamsey, » documents the harsh realities of the working lives of the young men and women involved in the illegal surface mining of gold in the Western Region of Ghana. In the series « Portraits, As We Are, » Nii Obodai reflects on the different faces of Ghana. The portraits are of his friends and fellow artists, as well as people Nii Obodai met in his travels throughout Ghana.

Bruno Boudjelal will exhibit his body of work of the collaborative project with Nii Obodai. In this exhibition he presents projections of blurring and textured images of street lives and portraits captured in a fleeting glimpse seemingly suggesting his quest to find himself in this
space, Ghana. These images bring to the fore the tangled web of his designation as a Franco- Algerian photographer that drives him to experiment with Africa, as an idea, as a socially and
culturally lived experience, as Africa assumes an identity rather than just a geographical location.
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