The works of Ibrahim Mahama are developed from recuperated objects of mass consumption that become analytic tools in the study of past and contemporary migratory flows due to globalisation and international economic exchange. His jute sacks, a recurrent object in the artist’s practice, bear witness to the underlying economic logic which reigns over international relations. Originally imported from South Asia, and omnipresent in Ghana, the sacks are used in the transportation of heavy goods and are subsequently repurposed to multiple utilitarian ends. In collaboration with various groups, the artist realises his large scale ‘paintings’ by sewing together the sacks and covering the interior or exterior of a specific edifice. In doing so, the structures take on the historical load of individual histories and social implications of a globalised system of exchange – and their impact upon local, national, and international economies.
For prologue, Ibrahim Mahama continues his Occupations series, 2012–, where the artist almost entirely covers the interior space of the exhibition. This immersive installation of jute sacks galvanises both recent and historical, collective and individual trajectories generated by a global market. The gallery is no longer a neutral receptacle of the installation which, in coming into union with all the forms of its architecture, is reciprocally blended with the space. The usages of both space and work are inscribed within one another and within an international cultural and economic flux. The visitor becomes witness in the space to these interrelations recounted by the objects which are themselves witnesses to larger networks of local and global histories.
The works of Ibrahim Mahama have been shown in numerous international solo projects including Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); daad galerie, Berlin (2018); White Cube Bermondsey, London (2017); and Tel Aviv Art Museum (2016). He has also been invited to participate in major group exhibitions internationally including the inaugural Ghana Pavilion, 58th Biennale Arte, Venice (2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019); Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (2018); Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2016) ; 56th Biennale Arte, Venice (2015); and The Broad Art Museum, Michigan (2015).
Image: Ibrahim Mahama, Check Point Sekondi Loco. 1901-2030. 2016-2017 documenta 14. Kassel, Allemagne. © Ibrahim Mahama / Courtesy l’artiste.