Existing Otherwise The Future of Coexistence

  • Zanele Muholi

Press Release

Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Redclay and Nkrumah Voli-ni Exhibition and Reschooling Programme 23.1.-23.4.2022. Performances, Reschooling workshops and Film-screenings 22.-28.1.22. Ibrahim Mahama: co-curator, founder/host SCCA, Tamale, Ghana Isabel Lewis: co-curator, founder The Institute of Embodied Artistic Research, Berlin Solvej Helweg Ovesen: Artistic Director of Exiting Otherwise & Galerie Wedding, Berlin

The innovative exhibition and re-schooling programme "Existing Differently I Existing Otherwise" will be launched by a hybrid curatorial team of performer Isabel Lewis (The Institute of Embodied Creative Practices, Callie's, Berlin), artist and founder of SCCA Ibrahim Mahama (Savannah Contemporary Art Centre, Tamale, Ghana) and Artistic Director Solvej Helweg Ovesen (Galerie Wedding and XO Curatorial Projects) 2021/2022. "Existing Otherwise - Future of Coexistence" is the final part of the programme. Existing Otherwise means experimenting with freedom and habitus while society is increasingly transforming but there is little room for change and independence. After the pandemic, art has a new role - to look into the future and initiate change - socially, ecologically and materially. Can we dig up and tell other stories of the past to build on an alternative foundation of the future?

"There were buildings that were built in Ghana in the early sixties which were meant for this economic independence programme, which was never completed. So these buildings still dwell around and we see them all the time, but we never really know what these buildings were supposed to be and these materials somehow are part of that history. My role as an artist is somehow to be able to establish that connection between those things." Ibrahim Mahama, interview and podcast by Time Sensitive, 2019[1].

With Ibrahim Mahama on the curatorial board and as an artist, co-initiator and enterpreneur on site in Tamale, Ghana, technically and ecologically "disastrous" modernisation processes and in this context appropriated buildings that define the urban living space in Tamale are explored as 'ruins of our time' and re-purposed material as well as space and social. Through Mahama's invitation as part of the art programme "Existing Otherwise", Berlin 2021, both as Lewis and Ovesen to teach workshops at SCCA and KUMASI and to create an exhibition together, the idea of the final exhibition of the project "Existing Otherwise" in Ghana was born. Mahama has shown this view of the modern world in his artworks all over the world. Now he shares his knowledge through various re-schoolings of audiences and students in both countries and supports them with ideas on how to exist differently without many resources.

"Many of the projects I have developed in the past have focused on alternative forms of sociality among human and non-human agents, literally bringing people and things into contact as ways to challenge the contemporary cult of the individual and encourage and practice empathy. Working with proximity and intimacy have been core strategies inside past work. The demand for "social distancing" and a new heightened awareness for how vulnerable we are to each other requires new approaches that nonetheless insist on addressing these topics. This is not a reason to try to translate live experience into online and video formats and avoid contact. We need to insist on the importance of sociability and find new ways to gather in real space and time that takes the new conditions of our lives into account." Isabel Lewis, Curatorial Statement on "Existing Otherwise", 2020

"Existing Otherwise - Future of Coexistence" is the culmination of reschooling and art production in a two to three month exhibition at SCCA with exhibition, listening sessions, role-playing, workshops, activations of the exhibition space, banquets, movement research, and performances by participating artists and collaborators (see also Appendix): Ghana: Selom Kudjie (GH, installation artist and lead SCCA, Redclay, Nkrume), Ernest Sackitey (GH, artist (sound) and installation team SCCA, Redclay, Nkrume), Tracy Thompson (GH, artist (sculpture, installation) and coordinator SCCA, Redclay, Nkrume), Ato Jackson (GH, artist, works on paper), and Sandra Kyeraa artist (GH, artist).

Abroad: Isabel Lewis (DO/DE performance and workshop, co-host), Lou Drago (NZ/DE, sound installation), Dmitry Paranyushkin (RU/DE, movement workshop on intertextuality), Hannah Anbert (DK, tools, costume, installation, performance), Luiza Prado (BR, DE, banquet, seat/hammock installation), Eli Cortinas (SP, film and film programme) and Nora Chipaumire (US, performance, workshop).

Exhibition spaces (please see Appendix "Exhibition Spaces"): SCCA Tamale is a contemporary art project space focusing on exhibition creation, research, publication and documentation of practices of this and the past century that are necessary for social development. It is also a cultural repository and residency space for artists that aims to build a community of artists to share and learn from other artists.

Red Clay is a complex of studios. These are multi-purpose spaces for exhibitions, meetings, art talks, film screenings, workshops, etc. There are also dedicated spaces for a library, a cinema hall and decommissioned aircraft for teaching and learning purposes.

Nkrumah Voli-ni is one of the many projects initiated by the future former President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, before his overthrow in 1966. It was originally intended to be a granary for karite nuts, but was completed. The facility was converted into a museum of science and culture.

  1. "Ibrahim Mahama on the Great Potential of Art to Change How We Look at the World". Interview by Spencer Bailey: https://timesensitive.fm/episode/artist-ibrahim-mahama-great-potential-art-to-change-how-we -look-at-the-world/ (Retrieved August, 2021) ↩︎