The debut national presentation from Ghana features work by six artists and is designed by the British architect David Adjaye.

Entitled ‘Ghana Freedom’, after the song composed by E.T. Mensah on the eve of the country’s independence in 1957, the pavilion sets out to examine the legacies of that freedom.

The pavilion draws on both Ghanaian culture and its diasporas and includes work by the filmmaker and Artes Mundi 5 winner John Akomfrah and the painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

The exhibition also includes large-scale installations by El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama, work by the photographer Felicia Abban, and a video sculpture by Selasi Awusi Sosu.

Akomfrah, whose Vertigo Sea in Okwui Enwezor’s 2015 International Exhibition was a huge Venice hit, presents a three-channel film projection,  The Elephant in the Room – Four Nocturnes (2019). Yiadom-Boakye is exhibiting a series of new portrait paintings titled Just Amongst Ourselves.

Situated in the Arsenale, the pavilion consists of a series of elliptically-shaped interconnected spaces with the artists having a space each. The walls of the pavilion are plastered with Ghanaian earth.

The pavilion’s curator, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, said:  “It means a lot for us to have our first national pavilion at such a narrative-building event as the Venice Biennale, especially at this moment.

“The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our ‘year of return’; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned, and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world; and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have yet to envision.”

Ghana is one of four debut nations at this year’s Venice Biennale, with the others being Pakistan, Madagascar and Malaysia. The Dominican Republic is participating for the first time with its own pavilion, while Saudi Arabia returns after an eight-year absence.

The Venice Biennale 2019 runs from 11 May to 24 November 2019.

1. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Just Amongst Ourselves (2019), series of paintings, oil on linen and canvas. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: David Levene
2, 3. John Akomfrah, The Elephant in the Room – Four Nocturnes (2019) Three-channel HD color video installation, 7.1 soundFour Nocturnes is a new commission for the inaugural Ghana pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. Co-commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana, Sharjah Art Foundation and Smoking Dogs Films with support from Lisson Gallery. Photo: David Levene
4. Felicia Abban, Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits) (c. 1960–70s), Digital images generated from original prints. 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: David Levene
5. El Anatsui, Opening of Time (2019). Bottle caps and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: David Levene
6. Ibrahim Mahama, A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History 1649 (2016–19), Smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth, and archival materials. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and White Cube. Photo: David Levene
7. Selasi Awusi Sosu, Glass Factory II (2019), Three-channel colour and black-and-white video installation with glass bottles, stereo sound. 7’08”, 5’33”, 10’10”. Courtesy the artist. Photo: David Levene

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