The Charlotten Palace on Nyhaven in Copenhagen is a very beautiful building in a famously pretty area of Copenhagen. For this exhibition the side of the building, which stretches along the port, was covered in jute sacks by Ibrahim Mahama. He
is an artist born and working with Ghana. His installation works using Jute sacks (reappropriated material he has purchased from markets, which were first cocoa sacks and then coal sacks) are the result of his investigation of the conditions of supply and demand in African markets. Torn, patched, stamped with PRODUCT OF GHANA, and written over with owners’ names, the bags are variously marred, marked, and transformed. These installations are displayed in Ghanaian markets as well as galleries, thus defying the artifacts’ intrinsic value system. Ibrahim uses the coal sacks as a device to explore process, material, value, and meaning. He creates an artistic vision out of a commonplace material, repurposing them and exhibiting them in the very marketplaces from which they came. (1)
The result is extraordinary. The weather during my visit was grey and damp which added to the brooding nature of the sacking covered building. I photographed the building from the outside, close-up and from the inside out.
A close up view of the sacks
There were a number of other artists exhibiting in the Charlottenborg. Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmet are Indonesian. They create work mostly in cities with participation of those around them. They had a number of video installations at Charlottenborg. One concerned Salina’s protest against creating another island in the harbour area of Jakarta which would have jeprodised the livlihoods of the local fishermen. Salina collected rubbish from the harbour and created an island with this which was pushed out into the sea. She was filmed from above. I took snapshots from the screen to try to give some idea of the project.
The complete video can be seen on YouTube
This is a video of an interview with the artists on the occasion of the Singapore Biennial.
- Public Delivery. 2016. Ibrahim Mahama Archives – Public Delivery. [ONLINE] Available at: http://publicdelivery.org/tag/ibrahim-mahama/. [Accessed 20 October 2016].