Afi o afi, afi aya ni ebanina wɔ ekoŋŋ.
Today marks exactly one year since we started our artBLOG named ban2ART.
We have been posting regularly – at least three times a week and notched up 175 posts; more than half a million readers and 15 000 followers.
We are deeply grateful to our readers and commentators. Obviously their patronage has sustained and energized us.
As we move forward into our second year, our thrust will be to continue to provide relevant measured content.
We need to continue educating ourselves on the importance of art and culture; as well as the beauty and dignity of understanding and collecting CAA.
There are only a precious few Ghanaians and Africans buying CAA; the booming of CAA is largely happening outside Africa.
It is bypassing us and it is a shame.
Africans need to take action by getting meaningfully involved in the CAA market; it is a capital asset.
Let us today reprise our (lengthy) maiden post in which we laid out the framework for our artBLOG.
Each of you will be able to judge how well we have kept to our mission and whether it is still relevant.
We owe you an eternal debt of gratitude for your support. We trust that we can continue to count on you.
Hii shi jogbaŋŋ yɛ Ofe lɛ hɔŋ lɛ shishi.
By Nii B. Andrews.
It has been a long time coming- close to a decade!
Finally it is here.
But why did it take so long? Three things finally broke the camel’s back.
First, there was a front page newspaper photograph of a national occasion that featured two prominent statesmen with a box of tissue paper prominently perched (with brand name visible) on the coffee table between them.
Mercifully, there was no plastic container with toothpicks!
Second, there was a public official wearing a long sleeved shirt and tie with a smock on top; searing sartorial sacrilege.
Mercifully, no one has showed up yet with a shirt and tie and wearing a kente cloth on top of the whole ensemble.
Third, the coconut trees along the Tema beach road and all the canoes were assaulted with an oil based monochromatic palette.
Mercifully, the beach sand has not been sprayed nor has it yet been embossed with the corporate logo.
Violent, vicious visual assaults abound.
Clearly, there is an urgent need to heighten our collective aesthetic sense by showcasing our indigenous plastic arts- namely, painting, sculpture, photography, textiles, architecture, jewelry, hairstyles and furniture.
Surely, an informative and thought provoking blog that promotes and examines Ghana’s arts should help.
Hopefully….just hopefully, it may curtail the future occurrence of other embarrassments.
The sages tell us that strength must support wisdom while we work and beauty (or if you like, aesthetics), must adorn the whole in harmony.
Again, it may turn out that we are naïve but how else can we inform and educate ourselves so that we can begin to do away with unsightly kiosks and garbage heaps?
What about less than flattering hairstyles, makeup and clothing on people seen on TV?
What about the depressing interior décor in public and private establishments both residential and commercial?
And the anemic flower displays on formal occasions? And our preference for plastic flowers?
What about our architecture that is insistent on further halving our already dollhouse sized window spaces by utilizing gaudy aluminum windows and perpetually condemning us to the use of artificial lights at high noon with attendant air conditioning or the irritating buzz of a standing electric fan?
Maybe …just maybe if we sought inspiration and a higher vision from the best of our contemporary artists we could improve things dramatically.
Thankfully, we are blessed with a fair number of productive and gifted artists and several of them have achieved major international acclaim.
We should become acquainted with their work; it should inspire us; we should value and showcase it; we should use it to improve ourselves and our country.
And lest I forget- have our so called “innovative” banks and bankers thought of how to unleash the capital value of this “unconventional” asset, our contemporary art? Or are they as usual going to lag over a generation behind best practice in Europe, America and Asia-until “massa say” they can do so?
ban2ART- a contemporary artBLOG (for “beauty full” people), is a contribution towards fulfilling the mission of using our art to improve our country. Consistent readers will become familiar with the works of the established Ghanaian masters, and upcoming new talent.
ban2ART will not shy away from offering informed comments and opinions on the social or spiritual meaning of the art work.
To do so effectively, we must inquire and know about the individual artists and the social, economic and spiritual circumstances under which they work- i.e the circumstances under which their art is conceived and created.
Making the artwork speak will need the concerted and collaborative efforts of art historians and scholars from a wide range of disciplines- and regular folks moved enough by the art to make a comment.
We aim to provide the scaffolding that will enable Ghana’s art to ascend and impact our lives in a wholly positive manner.
There will be regular features on textiles, jewelry, hairstyles, painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, video, architecture and décor.
We, as Africans have always had a more expansive view of art and we intend to reclaim this ethos in the current epoch in order to improve our lives.
There is much that we can be proud of, can learn from and be inspired by.
We will exploit it to promote our interests as a people while sharing it with the rest of the world.
ban2ART will act as an antenna that will broadcast the finest contemporary art from Ghana, Africa and the Diaspora to all who seek to know and to learn.
In our posts, we will recompose freely, with just one constraint- the eclectic taste that is ascribable only to the agent provocateur.
We pledge to be free of the intellectual and aesthetic restraints of institutional identity politics; but aesthetic leprechauns beware!
Finally, just in case it comes up; there are those who may wince/bemoan/ become uncomfortable with our name, ban2ART.
For those individuals we offer the following options.
First, we acknowledge that our name includes an archetype that was once the locus of intense intellectual and cultural scrutiny.
Today, that rigorous social critique should have ceased.
All of us should have moved on.
It should be discarded as the detritus of academic stoicism, overarching and overbearing narrative and essentialism; it is for nitpickers.
Second, they should “Let us be/leave us alone”.
Since we live in sub-Saharan Africa at this time, “the daily struggle for survival is at the center of (ban2)ART”.
[Text first published on July 1 2017]