[On plagiarism in Ghana’s contemporary art scene]

“Any other person who comes after Amoako, using a collection of old sewing machines in an installation, must of necessity, acknowledge Amoako as the precursor or progenitor in the use of old sewing machines as an artistic medium. 

Failure to do this amounts to a gross act of plagiarism. 

Originality is the hallmark of any artistic endeavor. 

More so, in conceptual art, the novelty of the idea being expounded is on an equal footing with the novelty of the object, or, non-object, being used by the artist to carry his/ her message.”

Peter Amoako, Installation view of his cluster of old sewing machines in his solo exhibition, “The Secret Behind My Strokes,” 2017, Art Exhibition Hall, Takoradi Technical Institute, Takoradi. Photo credit Riki Wemega-Kwawu.

“The Ghanaian art world is totally shocked and displeased with Mahama’s action against Amoako. 

There is a lot of backbiting, gossiping and deriding already going on. 

It is, however, not in the typical nature of the Ghanaian to tell you right in the face when you are wrong but would certainly be gossiping behind you. 

This pussy-footing and hypocrisy certainly does not augur well for the positive growth of our nascent art industry, which is completely bereft of any critical art discourse, let alone a rigorous one, hence, has inadvertently created a field-day for wanton and brazen plagiarizing of one another’s original creations.” 

Ibrahim Mahama’s collection of old sewing machines installed in his solo exhibition, “Living Grains,” at the Guiliani Foundation, Rome, Italy, October 2019.

“An open critique of an artist’s work could easily be misconstrued as an attempt to destroy the artist and his/her work, and you could be erroneously perceived an enemy by the artist in question and his/her supporters. 

This culture of silence, even in the face of a naked injustice of one artist against another, as in the case at hand, should be broken.

Ibrahim Mahama should do the most honourable thing befitting of the gentleman he is. I entreat him to withdraw the sewing machines from his exhibition in Rome and render an unqualified apology to Peter Amoako, affectionately called Amoako Gh by his friends.” 

Close up with Peter Amoako’s sewing machines in his 2017 installation. Photo credit Riki Wemega-Kwawu.

“That would be a bold act of honor, and I expect nothing less than that. 

Mahama’s work is already in the international public domain and I had no option but make my piquant critique also a public document.”


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