Ibrahim Mahama: Vanishing Points
04.04.2020 – 06.06.2020
From dried fish skeletons to tattered jute sacks, Ibrahim Mahama salvages the discarded materials of commerce and daily life in Ghana to create monumental artworks. Sourcing materials from disused industrial spaces, his multilayered tapestries negotiate themes of commodity, migration, and economic exchange. Mahama assigns meaning to the ubiquitous and mundane as he constructs a complex archive of global history and its failures. The artist is known for his large-scale architectural installations in which he drapes entire buildings - theatres, museums, and other monumental landmarks - in his trademark textile: salvaged jute sacks. Fabricated in South East Asia and used to distribute cocoa, coffee, rice, beans, and charcoal around the world, the sacks have multipurpose uses in their lifespan. Each sack is handled by countless weavers, packers and loaders, each marking the fabric with sweat, names, dates and coordinates. In collaboration with local workers, Mahama stitches these sacks together in colossal swathes. The material is repurposed to critique the inequalities and exploitations inherent in capitalist and class structures.
Born in 1987 in Tamale, Ghana, Mahama lives and works between Accra, Tamale and Kumasi. Just as Mahama frequently draws inspiration from the context of Ghana in his work, he has made vital contributions to the nation’s burgeoning contemporary art scene. In 2017 he founded the privately funded artist-run project space the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale.
Mahama has presented work for the 56th, 57th and 58th editions of the Venice Biennale (2015-2019); his piece A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History 1649 was a central feature of Ghana’s debut pavilion in 2019. The artist produced major public installations for documenta 14 (2019), enveloping historic buildings in both Kassel and Athens in charcoal sacks and tarpaulin. The same year, he was commissioned by Frieze to create 192 jute flags which flanked the Rockefeller Plaza, New York. Other notable international exhibitions include at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); K21, Dusseldorf (2015); The Broad Art Museum, Michigan (2015); and the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Israel (2016).
Text by Verity Seward
Due to the Covid19 pandemic, the exhibition will not begin as planned on April 4th, but will be postponed indefinitely.