Pace Gallery is presenting a group exhibition, curated by Kojo Abudu, ‘Living with Ghosts’. The exhibition brings together the work of nine pioneering artists whose work explores the ways the unresolved traumas of Africa’s colonial past, and its unfulfilled project of decolonisation, continue to shape the present global order.
The exhibition showcases various types of media, from videos and installations, written work, and powerful images, to display the long-lasting effects of colonialism and provide insight into Africa’s violent past. As a whole, it evokes a deeper understanding of the harsh realities faced by indigenous peoples both physically and psychologically in colonial times, and which still continue to reverberate through the continent.
Walking into the exhibition space, I was drawn to the video playing, ‘Foreword to Guns for Banta’, by Mathieu Kleybe Abonnec. This is a video interview, relaying memories from the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence, 1963 – 1974. The video emphasised the struggles and sacrifices made for freedom against the oppressive hands of imperialists. What I found particularly insightful from this video, was the focus on daily life during the war, as it explored the roles that different people had in the struggle. Men would fight on the battlefield, whilst women and children would transport necessities, from food to weaponry, to them. This would mean walking hundreds of kilometres through brush, whilst avoiding ambushes from the Portuguese Army. The video emphasised the nature of comradery and sacrifice amongst the people as they all shared the same goal – liberation.
‘Constructed Realities’ by Abraham Oghobase consists of various texts printed on silk organza, which explored the authority of colonial powers upon the lands and peoples which they colonised. Upon reading the texts, it became clear how deeply institutionalised colonialism was in Africa, and how the Empires exploited both the lands and the people. For example, the print titled ‘Evils and Extenuations of Slavery’, states that “It is the most serious charge against Islam in Africa that it has encouraged and given religious sanction to slavery.”. The text reveals colonial attitudes towards slavery and how it was viewed as a system which was essential across the continent.
Bouchra Khalili’s work encompasses a mix of film, video, installation, photography, and printmaking. The video playing focuses more so on the post-colonial era and contemporary continuums of imperialism, as well as reflecting upon anti-colonial struggles and international solidarity movements. Khalili explores themes of self-representation, forms of resistance and communal solidarity.
This exhibition allows the viewer to both learn and reflect upon colonialism in Africa and how it continues to impact the current world order. The nature of this exhibition provides a variety of perspective and focus, enabling the viewer to see the effects of colonialism – in the past and present – through different lenses.
This exhibition is on at the Pace Gallery from July 8 – August 5, 2022. Click here to find out more: https://www.pacegallery.com/exhibitions/living-with-ghosts-london/
Photography by Saskia Flower, Pace.
Reviewed by Ridha Sheikh – Ridha is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. She is a recent History and Politics graduate from Queen Mary – University of London. Ridha is excited to explore and share her strong passion for London’s art scene.