Commissioned by the Oude Kerk, Mahama has spent the previous two years engaged on his new large-scale site-specific set up. “Backyard of Scars” connects native historical past with a global context. Mahama locations over 800 upright stones, composed of casts he product of the ground within the Previous Church and the flooring of Fort Elmina (1482) on the coast of Ghana, amongst different locations. The shapes of the sculptures are derived from cemeteries in Tamale. The fractures, scratches and cracks within the work symbolize a historical past of failure, restoration, restore.
“For me it was very attention-grabbing to have the ability to have a look at the reminiscence of the area, in relation to the echoes of historical past, and connection to different areas.”
Strolling by means of the Backyard of Scars is a journey by means of the previous of the 1000’s of Amsterdam residents who’ve been buried within the church over the centuries, in addition to by means of the historical past of Ghana. The 3000-m2 ground space of the Oude Kerk is made up of tombstones. There are numerous tales and reminiscences hooked up to them that folks establish with to this present day. Mahama considers the gravestones within the Oude Kerk as a type of collective reminiscence, and questions the social and political elements of its formation. He connects the household histories of the retailers, captains and mayors buried within the Oude Kerk with the traces of the historical past of the traditional forts alongside the coast of Ghana, the place folks lived by means of the (penalties of) colonial commerce in Africa. The set up is accompanied by a sound work with sounds that Mahama recorded round these historic websites.
The castles and forts have been constructed on the West African coast from the fifteenth century onwards by merchants from Europe, together with the Dutch. Fort Elmina, for instance, initially served the gold commerce and later performed an necessary position within the improvement of the transatlantic slave commerce. Mahama needs to make this shared historical past seen.
International networks that have been and nonetheless are linked to each locations are made palpable. ‘I believe we must also look to the long run. And artwork is a instrument for that,’ says Mahama.
The big-scale installations that Mahama usually makes in collaboration with others contact on necessary problems with our time, each globally and particularly for his house nation Ghana. Migration, border crossing, motion (by means of commerce) of products and folks, the reuse of supplies and the reinterpretation of buildings are themes that he makes seen in his work. He calls himself a time traveller who exhibits totally different locations and views concurrently. Mahama is thought for his installations with decommissioned jute sacks sacks, which for him symbolize the unhealthy aspect of globalization: they’re made in Asia, used for exporting cocoa from Ghana, and returned to Ghana as a waste product.
at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
till March 19, 2023