Ibrahim Mahama Introduces TRANSFER(s) at Kunsthalle Osnabrück

IBRAHIM MAHAMA

A compelling exploration of history, trade, and culture unfolds as internationally acclaimed Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama introduces his thought-provoking project, “TRANSFER(s),” at the Kunsthalle Osnabrück. The ambitious exhibition, marking the 375th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia, transports visitors into a world where textiles serve as conduits of connection and reflection.

From July 9 to October 1, 2023, the façade of the former Galeria Kaufhof building, nestled in Osnabrück’s bustling city center, undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis. Draped with a monumental tapestry of intricately woven materials, the installation speaks to Mahama’s prowess in creating layered narratives through artistic expression. Comprising strip weave fabric, traditional Ghanaian batakaris garments, and upcycled jute sacks, the installation evokes an intricate dialogue between diverse cultures, histories, and economies.

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“TRANSFER(s)” is more than an exhibition; it’s a journey through time and space, unraveled through the lens of textiles. At its core is Osnabrück’s historical significance as a textile production hub in Westphalia. The city’s linen fabric, known as “true born Osnaburghs,” has roots stretching back to the fourteenth century. This fabric not only adorned individuals but also traversed oceans, becoming a form of currency in the exchange of captives from Africa’s coastal regions and clothing for forced laborers on West Indies plantations.

The former Galeria Kaufhof building itself is a fitting canvas for Mahama’s dialogue between the local and the global. With a history intertwined with local city narratives, war experiences, and post-war transitions, the building’s transformation by the Hamburg-based project developer Home United represents a continuum of change and evolution.

As the “Osnabrücker Ding” prepares to take root in the Galeria Kaufhof building, and the University of Osnabrück’s departments of Art/Art Education and Textile Design find their new home there, Mahama’s installation bridges historical contexts with modern visions. The building’s narrative converges with global trade and power dynamics through Mahama’s thought-provoking artistic vision.

Beyond the walls of Kunsthalle Osnabrück, “TRANSFER(s)” extends its reach to the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale, Ghana. In a series of talks, seminars, exhibitions, performances, and presentations, the SCCA Tamale emerges as a hub for unraveling the project’s historical and political strands.

Curated by Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh and Bettina Klein, the “TRANSFER(s)” project not only engages the viewer with history and artistry but also stimulates conversations on themes spanning trade routes, cultural connections, and the dynamic interplay of societies.

Ibrahim Mahama’s influential artistic journey, showcased in international platforms like the Sharjah Biennial 15, the Biennale of Sidney, and documenta 14, now finds new resonance in Osnabrück. The “TRANSFER(s)” project is made possible through the support of the TURN2 Fund of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, Kulturhauptstadt Europas Chemnitz 2025, Koch International Heinrich Koch Internationale Spedition GmbH & Co KG, and Home United.

As “TRANSFER(s)” welcomes visitors to ponder upon the intertwined threads of history, culture, and trade, the Kunsthalle Osnabrück invites all to embark on a journey that transcends time and continents through the artistry of Ibrahim Mahama.

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