Nana Oforiatta-Ayim: a new model of showing contemporary art

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, the country’s capital Accra saw open a new multi-purpose contemporary art space. ANO aims to serve as a hub for the city’s growing art scene. Interview with Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, writer, art historian, filmmaker and founder of ANO.   ANO – what does this signify? It actually comes from the Ghanaian word for grandmother. In Ghana, grandmother or old woman, is a metaphor for knowledge and wisdom. ANO is very much also about bringing to the fore hidden or untold cultural histories, so she seemed like a very good metaphor for that. Also, in Esperanto it means belonging. When I started working in arts, African art was very much outside of the centre, so it is also about belonging to the world’s discourse and having our place. How was the idea for this new art space born? Last year I helped to set up a gallery, called Gallery 1957, in the Kempinski Hotel in Ghana. I had always realised the need for more sustainable spaces, but now understood the pragmatism of it. So more spaces that sell art, that invite collectors in and that give artists an opportunity to be sustainable and profitable. The space in the hotel was quite limited; a lot of people are very shy of coming into a five star hotel. So before, where we had been working more on content and narrative, now the idea of growth and even of profit, for growth, came into play. What are your plans for this space? It will be an exhibition space for exhibitions, performances and screenings, but it will also be a space for the creative community in Ghana to get together. So there is a library and a research centre. There will be lectures and workshops as well....

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New gallery in Ghana

A new gallery will be opening on 6 March 2016 in Accra (Ghana): Gallery 1957. Established by collector Marwan Zakhem, the gallery has hired Nana Oforiatta Ayim as creative director. With programming focusing on contemporary art in Ghana, the gallery will namely work with the artists Serge Attukwei Clottey, Zohra Opoku, Jeremiah Quarshie and Yaw...

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Art with no market

In countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, artists, collectors and gallerists alike benefit from a historically rich and well established art scene, in which government schemes, funding and residencies allow them to work to the best of their ability. However, in some countries, the art market is a world away from this kind of development, some only recently benefitting from galleries, auction houses and art schools to promote and sustain artistic development. Art Media Agency looks at three areas in particular in order to gain a wider knowledge of how certain art markets are developing and functioning without the level of government and official support that other areas benefit from, and the various problems that artists face when working in these areas. In 2005, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labelled Belarus as “Europe’s last dictatorship” — a cliche oft repeated in the media, but to some extent, true. Following the Soviet model, the State does not place great emphasis on art education or artistic progress; the Belarusian performance artist Alexander Pushkin spoke to OnlineDemocracy.net to say that “there are two kinds of Belarusian artists […] official and unofficial. But it’s not a question of ‘this art is good, this art is bad,’ it’s a question of complicity and conformism.” The state gives little money to the arts, which goes towards artists who are in-keeping with official policy, leaving most dependent on private funding, which is difficult to come by. Artistic institutions are treated in the same way as commercial entities; if they are established, taxes and other outgoings make them hard to maintain. Another Belarusian artist, Mikhail Gulin, when interviewed in The Economist, said of the cultural scene in the country: “Belarus has no art market, no film industry, barely any publishing. In...

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El Anatsui, Ghanaian sculptor

New York, 19 September 2012. Art Media Agency (AMA). The Museum for African Art is organising until 30 September a retrospective of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, titled “When I Last Wrote to You about Africa”. This exhibition gathers various works of the artist, from his wooden montages, a reflect of his country’s traditional art, to his ceramics. His works, all made out of recycled materials, fascinate the whole world. He has been sculpting for 40 years and does not intend to finish his career soon. He said, during an interview with the AFP, he saw himself “as as artist. And as an African”. El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, Ghana. He graduated from the Kumasi University of Sciences and Technologies, art department, and then moved to Nigeria, where he lives most of the time and began teaching in the University in 1975. He uses clay and wood, his favourite materials, to create works very close to Ghanaian art and history. The artist took part in many exhibitions all over the world, notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Venice (2007), Liverpool (2002) and Gwangju (2004)...

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Record for El Anatsui at Bonhams

London, 30 May 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA). The “Africa Now” sale, which took place at Bonhams in London on 23 May 2012, has confirmed the constant rise of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, with his work New World Map selling for an impressive £541,520 (€678,000). The work was created from salvaged materials, as is typical of the artist: a tapestry decorated with plastic bottle tops, measuring 350 x 500 cm. These dimensions give an indication as to why this work did so well: as Bonhams reminded readers in a a press-release following the sale, a smaller work by the artist had gone for €580,000 at a charity sale in New York at the beginning of May 2012. Born in Ghana in 1944, El Anatsui presently lives in Nigeria, where he is director of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. His works often take inspiration from the traditional techniques employed by African craftsmen, and are created from raw materials. His tapestries, such as New World Map, take inspiration from woven silk pieces traditionally made in...

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