Walkthrough Apam Mpoano, past the exhibition of brightly colored immobile canoes uniquely identified with tall flags and phrases writ large on either sides – phrases addressing philosophy, politics, and God, as well as a cosmopolitan aesthetic of national and European football team flags – and see in the distance, about a kilometer and a half away, the iconic bamboo structure through the busy cluster of coconut trees lining the shore of that portion of the Atlantic Ocean.
The structure, appropriating the form of a seashell, is defined by an arch with three open sides that sit firmly in concrete. Bamboo members loop to form its outer ‘radial ribs’. The roof is a rhythmic crisscross of bamboo logs fastened and held firmly together with bamboo nails and rope. White tarpaulin is used as the protective membrane on top of the bamboo members, offering the only form of closure to the structure.
This minimalist architectural landmark provides an intimate dialogue with the Atlantic Ocean and will be a space where cultural moments are produced, moments made meaningful by the space’s multifunctional intent. Not only will there be psychic meaning-making occurring through conversations, negotiations, and collaborations, but the physical relational element will also deepen the exchanges taking place within this space. The interactions between producer, performer, space, audience, and immediate environment will infuse the structure with life--certainly what a performance arena needs. The iconic structure acts as a symbolic connection between Apam, Abrekum, and the rest of Ghana. More externally, it beams with the potential of becoming a hub for intercultural creative exchanges.
How would contemporary visual artists engage this arena with its inherent possibilities? Conceptually, what it offers is a fervently active space that is always in the process of making or being made. It is the environment and the artwork; the space and the event. It also fosters collaboration between artists practicing within various disciplines and creates a location within which to constantly [re-]think and question existing ways of making. Artists interested in optimizing its potentiality can engage the aforementioned as entry points into a critique (of practice), exploration, and discovery, and channel them into the production of new ideas.
Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh lives and works in Ghana. He received his BFA degree in painting from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana in 2009. Using installation, performance, site-specific and socially engaged projects, Ohene-Ayeh explores ambiguities in Accra’s urban contemporary sign systems and social identity. He is currently working on “Prison Anxieties”, a research project that investigates Ghana’s colonial history through collaborative and curatorial projects.