Ibrahim Mahama

Strangers to lines
Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana)

The formal analysis of the architecture of the Institute of Fine Arts in Lubumbashi is the starting point of Strangers to lines. Ibrahim Mahama wanted to create a dialogue with the building and established an analogy between the empty and the full which characterize some of its walls as well as the columns supporting the school, and the form of coffins. The artist has since made versions of about five meters long of them, coated with used motor oil and sand that give the wood patina of a dug up object. Arranged in the space of the Institute of Fine Arts, they propose a new spatial perception because of their disproportionate size. These objects transcend their funerary nature to, somehow, blend into the architectural structure of the place. Extracted from their funerary context since theyr are exhibited while their function is dedicated to burial and to decomposition, these “coffins” with excessive proportions that will not disappear from the view of the visitor as would be the case with a classic coffin, also invite a reflection on the integration of death in everyday life.

Ibrahim Mahama (°1987 in Tamale, Ghana) is an artist who lives and works in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale, Ghana. He started his practice through his interest in the history of materials and architecture. Failure and delay through specific forms always inform his choice of sites which be believes the works do not only occupy but are also occupied within the works/objects.

Residues and points of chaos registered as marks within the forms he selects, present alternative perspectives of looking into the materials and labour conditions of society. His work includes objects from jute sacks used to transport commodities to the point of decay and later sewn together with a network of collaborators under specific labour conditions which is then superimposed on architecture. The politics of the hand and its parallel relation with architectural forms become a lot more evident.

His most recent work, a straight line through the carcass of history, has also dealt with forms related to the second world war and bacteria life. His work was presented at the 56th and 57th editions of the Venice Biennale, documenta 14 Athens and Kassel, Orderly Disorderly, Accra, Images An Age of Our Own Making, Denmark, the island is what the sea surrounds, valletta 18, Malta and Spectacles Spectations, Kumasi Ghana and Labour of Many at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town.

Ibrahim Mahama finished a year residency with the DAAD in Berlin in 2018. His current interests are using specific architectural forms with history in the formation of spaces inspired by the potentialities and failures of modernity.