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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

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Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Photo courtesy of ArtXLive!

Art X Live! Is Making Space For Emerging Artists In Nigeria

The musical portion of Art X Lagos featured standout performances from some of Nigeria's most promising rising acts like Lady Donli, WurLD, BUJU and more.

It's 10:40pm in Lagos and the Art X Live! crowd has just been treated to a surprise performance from global star Mr Eazi. The audience is bubbling over with enthusiasm that subsides as BUJU takes the stage. A relative newcomer, BUJU has the tough task of following one of West Africa's most charismatic performers and it's not clear yet if he's up to the task.

But BUJU is one of the freshest young talents in Lagos right now and his emotional yet upbeat set quickly wins him new fans among the young Lagosian art lovers and the international visitors in town for the art fair. The applause he receives as he walks off stage is significantly more boisterous than the one he received when he started.

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14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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