The only art festival which draws hundreds of art lovers, creatives and the bored took place today on the usual streets of JamesTown in Accra. Like last year’s event, it was once again a display of the artworks of Ghanaian artists, spoken word, vendor displays and street style fashion of Ghana’s millennials. Dubbed African Electronics, this years’ chose to focus on how WE BE TECHNOLOGY with the innovation and creativity to achieve the impossible.
The organisers; AccraDotAltRadio held an interactive series of films and conversations dubbed The LABS @ CHALE WOTE, interspersed with music installations which took place two days before the James Town festival, on 20th August at the Nubuke Foundation & 21st August at the WEB Du Bois Centre.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have turned up so early at the advertised time of 12pm. But I had an instameet by @igersghana and I had to be on time. It was a slow start to the two-day event and as I walked up from High Street I couldnt help but notice that there was less road blocked compared to last years’. Cars drove around the Usher fort area which previously had been lined with cyclist performers. I guess there was too much blockades which had increased traffic then.
Even though the instameet didn’t happen I went on a shooting spree to capture what was new this year.
How would I compare this years’ with the last three festivals? Well I didn’t want to seem biased so I spoke to a few friends who turned up and asked them to share their thoughts. There wasn’t enough art installations and it seem more like a bazaar came most of the comments. They couldn’t sense the vibe and vim of previously held ones. My friend Jeff who attended the festival for the first time said same. I couldn’t agree more. Or are we looking for something different?
I however found this performance installation pretty curious if I can use that word. Curious. Performed by crazinis T & Natascia Silverio this duo attracted quite a crowd of onlookers who gaped at the blackened very nude body and that of a light-skinned woman bent over his ‘broken’ or ‘dead body’. The performance sought to send the message of the merging of history, gender, race and cultures to redefined a new form of existence in the 21st Century. Their performance questions our disabled minds. We desperately need to free ourselves from mental slavery in Ghana and West Africa.
Strong messaging murals and graffiti’s at the Brazil House showcased the work of various artists such as that of Bright Ackwerh and Nii Odzenma’s Million Man Riot; documentation of a fantasy riot of the various distinctive characters leading the discourse on the identity of the African in the world today. Various leaders in music, politics and the arts in fine lines of simplicity and definition stood out on the concrete walls with each personality displaying some form of message on their expressions.
My hand shook with excitement when I was given the opportunity to paint a part of the murals. My nerves are traitors!
This here was a beauty of a mural to behold.
Meet Nana Kwame Asante Agyare an illustrator and artist who had installed what he called Repetition and Serialisation. Using recycled Peak milk tins collected over a period of one month, he strung these up vertically over almost 100m distance whilst also displaying tin toy cars technology. These were recollections from our childhood when we used to collect any and everything we found in our environment and transformed them into a kites and all kinds of toys. It was a blast down memory lane. Find more of his work on Instagram @Nanakwameashanti
I found his work rustic and daring and considering it took him three months to install this, I would say it was a time well spent!
We are Technology was a poetry + spoken word session which took place on the Brazil Road and featured some pretty creative poets like Akotowaa who did a brilliant piece on how the youth in the West take risks which leads them towards their dreams whilst the African child is often led by doing what a parent says they should do. Not taking risks, not being daring will not lead to your dreams is what I took away with me.
Great done by Eco planners in ensuring the event was litter-free as they provided litter bins at key areas at the event.
I reconnected with nkate cake and agblikaaklo, now thats something I have to try and prepare one of these ‘sor’ days.
Ga music is on its own level during the festival especially during this performance group during the event. I couldn’t get their name though.
How did you find this year’s Chale Wote? More energy? Better or more work to be done? Which art installation was your favourite?