By Nii B. Andrews.
The famous Ghanaian artist – Ibrahim Mahama, has in his latest work assembled old lockers and shelves filled with mouldering records of Ghanaian parliamentary debates from the early post-colonial parliament, old schoolbooks, tattered photographs and tangles of lathe wood shearings.
In the middle of the above he has arranged old damaged railway seats of fiber glass that had been abandoned in Ghana’s dilapidated railway yards and depots. Thus they form a vast Parliamentary chamber in the middle of the gallery.
Ironically the fiber glass chairs were made in Manchester or Leeds; Mahama has brought them back.
The art installation can be viewed at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester as part of the Manchester International Festival that opened this week.
It is Ibrahim Mahama’s first major UK exhibition.
There is also a macabre component to the installation. It has photos showing the tatooed names on forearms and hands of the casual workers in the railway yards.
This was the only way they had of being identified if they met an untimely death from an industrial accident at the workplace.
The installation is titled PARLIAMENT OF GHOSTS and headlined as far back as April this year.
It signals the powerful forces of history and memory of a country and its people in turmoil and yearning for freedom and progress largely denied them by their own incompetent and greedy homegrown leaders.
If there is any doubt about life imitating art, Mahama’s PARLIAMENT OF GHOSTS encompasses film, photography, sculpture and painting.
People have been encouraged and invited to use the installation as a venue for their own debates.
PARLIAMENT OF GHOSTS represents the “potential of a country that was yet to manifest itself, but never came to be, in a way”, Mahama says.