A Short Century

A Lecture by Ibrahim Mahama

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 - 6pm

Free, until full capacity is reached

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 400 and online platform
400 people
English, with simultaneous interpreting into Spanish

Ghanaian artist, curator and cultural manager Ibrahim Mahama gives a lecture in the Museo, running through his professional career and exploring the continuities between academic research, artistic creation and current curatorial strategies to reconsider the transformative role of art from the Global South. The lecture is part of the Curatorial Practices Seminar from the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme Connective Tissue.

Mahama employs local resources and materials, using them as a starting point to reflect on the mechanisms of the contemporary capitalist system. His artistic practice responds to the challenges of his native country and the African continent — for instance, he re-uses jute sacks used to transport coffee, cocoa and rice to different parts of the world to create installations that demonstrate the injustices of global trade. Upon recycling and recontextualising such objects, the artist vindicates other possible uses for materials that respond to extractivist and, therefore, unequal policies, shedding light on the narratives of oppression and empowerment that remain hidden. In this process, entailing a sense of collectiveness and shared authorship, the choice of spaces, forms and materials encompasses a political positioning from which to explore themes of migration, ecology and globalisation.

A core part of Ibrahim Mahama’s practice is curatorship and cultural management; more specifically, through cultural community initiatives interwoven in the local context of Tamale, his native city. Therefore, in 2019 he opened the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), a multidisciplinary space which encourages artistic research and runs as an artists’ residency; in 2020, he created Red Clay, which serves concomitantly as his studio and a public exhibition space for work by Ghanaian artists and to organise cultural events; and in 2021, he founded Nkrumah Volini, conceived primarily as an education institution. In an environment where the State does not guarantee cover for the population’s basic needs, these participatory, complementary institutions set out to universalise the access to art and culture as channels of collective emancipation.

The Curatorial Practices Seminar is a space of discussion and analysis concerning forms of contemporary curating. It is mobilised by Pablo Allepuz and Soledad Liaño, researchers and curators linked to the Museo who also introduce and collaborate with the artist in this activity.

Ibrahim Mahama (Tamale, Ghana, 1987) is an artist and activist who lives and works between three cities: Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. His work has been shown at documenta 14 (2017), the 58th Venice Biennale (2019), representing his home country, and the Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023), among others. He was also the artistic director of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts in 2023.