Artist Bright Ackwerh highlights importance of popular culture in artDate Released: Tue, 30 October 2018 16:57 +0200
By Sino Falakahla, third-year journalism student
Bright Ackwerh, a multifaceted young artist based in Accra, Ghana, opened his first solo exhibition at the RAW Spot Gallery in October at Rhodes University.
The exhibition titled “Where de cho dey?” was curated by Rhodes University Professor Ruth Simbao as part of the National Research Foundation SARChI programme in Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa. “Where de cho dey?” means “Where is the food?” in Ghanaian Pidgin.
Known for his street art and graffiti, Ackwerh’s more recent works are satirical pieces that speak to the state of the world today. “He creates digital works that challenge the misplaced power of various current geopolitical events,” said Prof Simbao. His style creates an ironic representation of the Ghanaian sociopolitical and religious climate that aims to provoke conversations, spark debate and elicit responses.
The artworks showcased deal with issues of “contemporary geopolitical crises” through the creative and artistic analysis of food, said Simbao. “Ackwerh questions the impact of global trade wars on local consumers, challenges Ghana’s ratio of food export to food import, and mocks the Ghanaian akonfem scandal.” The artist’s critiques are rooted in popular music and political events, since he believes that music and popular culture have the power to influence and inspire people.
As Simbao explained, “Through his sharp and unrelenting wit, Bright Ackwerh turns the tables on global leaders who have treated Africa and Africans with disregard, have positioned themselves as Messiahs, or have colluded with African elites. ‘Everyone wants to be the King or Queen,’ said Ackwerh who places characters such as Robert Mugabe, the Queen of England, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nana Akufo-Addo in humorous situations in order to imagine how they would react.”
The exhibition was regarded with great enthusiasm from attendees, and the artist’s use of digital prints not only intrigued the audience, but sparked lively conversation and necessary discourse.
Ackwerh’s “Where de cho dey?” is part of the Mellon Southern Epistemologies Seminar Series hosted by the School of Journalism and Media Studies in collaboration with Fine Art, Creative Writing, Philosophy and ISER.
See www.ru.ac.za/artsofafrica for further information on the exhibition.