Tunnels upon tunnels. Running underground all throughout James Town. Even up to Osu Castle, the former seat of government. Disparate journeys bound for unknown futures. X marks the spot. They always draw you in…
We met Nolan Oswald Dennis in 2013 when he came from Jozi to CHALE WOTE after a months-long residency in South Korea. Born in Zambia and based in S.A., we were all excited about Nolan’s work, how his art produces an immediate shock of remembrance in you.
He plugs into the senses of symbols. He finds the frequency and you can’t help but feel it. Nolan’s 2013 installation, memory and speculation: the weapon of history, was located in the entryway of Ussher Fort (a storehouse of cells penning the enslaved and the incarcerated from 1649-1993) where Dr. Kwame Nkrumah spent 10 months before the Gold Coast became Ghana. An interlocking mural of drawings mused on the context of the architecture and history of the prison with people in Ussher Town, community members who live around the fort, and visitors to the festival. It was a live, interactive creation made between artists to include expressions that formed part of their exchange in communication (“Ga Mashie” – “I am a slave returned – I came back! Coming Back Home!!!” – “This Land Is Not For Sale”). Nolan called it, “a visual dialogue between history, memory, futurology and mythology.”
We thought of no better way to launch this year’s graphic, especially considering the theme, African Electronics. Those tunnels. The possibilities.
In 2015, there’s a tunnel climbing overground to Joburg. Nolan opened up that portal. This time, the JHB Massive are blazing through, coming 15 strong. Along with artists traveling to Accra from Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Rwanda, Germany and the states.
The signal has gone out.