As part of the Talks Programme at ICTAF 2019, celebrated Ghanian artist, Ibrahim Mahama – who was also one of the selected SOLO artists – discussed his art, practice, politics and audience. Here he tells us more about his work as well as the aforementioned subjects in relation to his art.
Q: You were selected as one of the SOLO artists at this year’s ICTAF, can you give us a brief description of the work?
A: The work is part of the occupation series I have worked on for last five years and two photographs from Non Orientable series. These two works are connected to the foundation of my practice and the interests I have developed since. There are a lot of similarities with these and my previous work but also great distinctions between their forms.
Q: The panel discussion you were a part of at ICTAF 2019’s Talks Programme addressed the topics of practice, politics and audience, can you share with us how the relationship of these three subjects impacts/informs your work?
A: I think these three things at some point become one. I think of my practice as a political one through the decisions I make and of course the audience being a significant element built into the form and aesthetics. Artistic practice for me is not only making symbolic objects but a way of making that shifts the existing perspectives within the art world and its narratives. The existing systems of production have to be reflected upon, so I believe the audience are made active participants with the process of making. Production is political.
Q: What has been the most profound lesson or epiphany you’ve had as an artist living and working in Africa?
A: Well the most important thing I realized practicing, as an artist in the last few years, has been the significance of infrastructure to the development of artist communities. My work has mostly been inspired by spaces within the city with a certain sense of historical importance and social relevance. These spaces have the ability to inspire new forms and affect the way artists think about the place within the world around them and connect globally. I think these should inspire us to create more infrastructure to help shape and build the practices of generations of artist to come. That I believe is worth more than any symbolic gesture.