Home Magazine The roots of Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama

What artistic practices could testify an era of growing barbarism and dehumanization? During miart 2019 we started talking about Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama engaged in the realization of the site-specify work "A friend" promoted by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi. By following the concept below the magazine area dedicated to People that have left a significant trace in the art field, we chose to deepen much more on Mahama's life and artistic path. 

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Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama is a thirty-two-year-old artist from Ghana, born in Tamale where still now he lives, works and planning his future. Unlike many African artists that moved in Europe or United States to have more chances of success - Mahama has chosen to work in his birthplace and start an artistic activity focused on a policy of exchange and commitment. While he was studying painting and sculpture at Kwame Nkrumah's University of Science and Technology (in 2010), Mahama started work on a series of interventions entitled Occupation (2010-2012): first examples of a strong collaboration with local merchants and sellers. We are speaking about huge installations, created with jute bags from the Ghana markets: stamped, torn, patched. 


'Kunst & Kohle/ Coal Market' Schloss Strünkede Emschertal–Museum Herne Stadtische Galerie Herne,
Germany 8 May – 16 September 2018 © Ibrahim Mahama


Ibrahim-Mahama-Untitled-2013-Kawokudi-Installation-with-Wax-Print-Panels-Dimension-Variable. Courtesy Alterivista


This work was officially presented to the world during the famous Okwui Enwezor's "All the World's Futures" Venice Biennal. Titled Out of Bounds (2015), this huge installation had become an extreme example of African public art. The jute sack - made in Southeast Asia and imported into Ghana by buyers of agricultural products - had become the new symbol of Ghana fragile economy that, unfortunately, is based on the production of cocoa despite the wealth of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds and oil, exploited instead by the global economic powers. 

Each sack has its own story. Indeed, all of these sacks are recurrent objects of exchange, present in the houses, in the shops and Ghana markets, usually marked with the names of their owners. For that reason, each sack encloses personal and collective narratives, traces of historical value. That's because cocoa sinks its roots in the wider trajectories of Ghana's political and financial economy, especially during periods of colonization and independence. To sew the sacks, Mahama has brought together in his studio dozens of migrants women without identities, documents or rights, who lives on their skin dramatic nomadism and cruel social inequality. So, the reality is that all these bags represent one of the many contradictions of the current globalized era, in which the markets are both the space for the exchange of products and the front on which social inequality and labour exploitation are triggered.

Cover image: Artist Ibrahim Mahama installing his work for the upcoming "Cornfields In Accra" exhibition. Courtesy Twitter Blog Ashanti Immigrant.


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