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Felicia Abban "Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits)" (c.1960–70s). Digital images generated from original prints 50×40 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Photos: Inside Ghana's First-Ever National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The "Ghana Freedom" pavilion, designed by David Adjaye is the first of its kind at the international art exhibition and features the works of six prominent Ghanaian artists.

The 58th Venice Biennale, a top destination for international design, art, architecture and more is underway now in the Italian city.

This year, Ghana unveiled its first-ever national pavilion, designed by none other than star Ghanian architect David Adjaye and curated by Ghanian art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim.

Commissioned by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the country's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture with the strategic supervision of Okwui Enwezor, the pavilion—which opened to the public this past Saturday (May 11)—has been named "Ghana Freedom" after the popular independence song by E.T. Mensah.

The pavilion features the work of six Ghanaian artists who embody this spirit of freedom, including photographer Felicia Abban, painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, pioneering sculptor El Anatsui, as well as visual artists Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu.


LynetteYiadom-Boakye Just Amongst Ourselves(2019) series of paintingsoil on linen and canvas. Dimensions variable.Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by David Levene.

"Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer," says Adjaye of the history-making earth-house pavilion which he designed to reflect West African heritage and "illustrate the elliptical forms" used architecturally by people across the diaspora.

"The commitment and inspiration shown by the President in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community," he adds.

John Akomfrah The Elephant in the Room. Nocturnesis. Co-commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ghana, Sharjah Art Foundation and SmokingDogs Films with support from Lisson Gallery. Photo by David Levene.

Ofriatta Ayim, described the spirit of African unity evoked by Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah as an inspiration for her curatorial work. "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," says Oforiatta Ayim. Adding that she pulled from an intergenerational pool of artists to relay both the struggle and growth of Africa's first independent nation.

El Anatsui Yaw Berko(2019)Aluminum printing plates, bottle tops and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by David Levene.

"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."

The Venice Biennale runs through November 24. Check out more installations from the "Ghana Freedom" pavilion below.

Selasi Awusi Sosu Glass Factory II (2019)Three-channel colour and black-and-white video installation with glass bottles, stereo sound. Courtesy of the artist.

Photo by Davide Levene

El Anatsui Earth Shedding Its Skin (2019) Bottle caps and copper wires. Courtesy of the artist.

Photo by David Levene

Ibrahim Mahama. A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History1649( 2016–19) Smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth, and archival materials. Courtesy of the artist and White Cube.

Photo by David Levene

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Just Amongst Ourselves(2019)series of painting soil on linen and canvas .Courtesy of the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Photo by David Levene

Op-Ed
Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

Black Women Are the Future of French Cinema—When Will Cannes Catch Up?

In this op-ed, OkayAfrica contributor Aude Konan reflects on the progression of diversity in French cinema a year after the Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier demonstration at Cannes Film Festival.

A year ago, 16 French actresses of African descent walked the red carpet at Cannes to talk about a new project they authored, Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier (Being Black Is Not My Job), where they shared their experiences with racism and sexism in the film industry.

In an era where the movements #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite gained global momentum and led to some change in the Academy Awards, it was a first considering that outside of Aissa Maïga, French actresses seldom get any visibility and speaking out against racism put them at risk of being blacklisted, like the actor Luc Saint Eloi's unfortunate experience 20 years ago.

The red carpet moment was generally well received in France and in the rest of the world, with the main actresses getting large media coverage with features in Le Monde, Le Figaro and even Vogue U.S. The presidents of the Cannes Film Festival welcomed the actresses. No promises were made by any of the gatekeepers in French cinema, but the actresses were hopeful.

Since the book's release, the actresses have been busy working, some of them lucky enough to be able to portray fully fledged characters, others being reduced to play the "black woman" stereotype over and over again. Recently, one of them, Karidja Touré, well known for being in the film Girlhood, mentioned that she was pretty good at mimicking an "African accent." Semantics aside—and the fact that there is no such a thing as an African accent, as Africa is still not a country—it is pretty revealing: despite the wonderful coverage these actresses had, has the movement contributed to any change?

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Walshy Fire, Ice Prince & Demarco's 'Round of Applause' Will Soundtrack Your Summer

PREMIERE: New heat from the Major Lazer producer & DJ.

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Akwaeke Emezi's 'Freshwater' Is Being Developed Into a Series for FX

The adaptation is in early development as the Nigerian author teams up with screenwriter and director Tamara P. Carter to bring 'Freshwater' to life.

Akwaeke Emezi's debut, Freshwater, took the literary world by storm when it was released just last year.

We can now anticipate seeing the book be brought to live for TV. Their autobiographical novel is now in the early stages of being developed into a series for FX, Variety reports.

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