Satire in Ghana these days is synonymous with one name, BRIGHT ACKWERH. Similar to how Ghana is linked with pan-African independence, Bright’s work is is also quite radical. His caricatures tickle public sensibilities in humorous but very provocative ways.
Returning to the CHALE WOTE after his collaborative project with photographer Nii Odzenma, Million Man Riot, drove the Internet wild last year, a huge Kuenyehia Prize win for his artwork just a few months ago, and an ever-expanding multi-verse of beautiful, thought provoking work, Bright’s strokes are sure to massage, tenderly and roughly, the psyche of festivalgoers with the Validate Me series.
Here’s what Bright has planned for CHALE WOTE 2016:
The project is a series of satirical illustrations narrating incidents of successes, failures and general experiences of African creatives doing the most to find acceptance within an exclusive alien machine of validation which was not designed to include them.
If any project is a perfect blend of komi k3 shitor k3 kpanla and the heart and soul of CHALE WOTE, this is it!
Explaining the connection between his project and the festival theme, Spirit Robot, he says,
Creativity and cultural production is the life force of any people and to have rigid and intentionally insensitive systems (robots) dictating the experience of this creativity could only mean one thing – doom.
I can’t help but draw a link to the exploits of some robots (read: commercial entities) and even fellow creatives whose blatant disrespect and disregard for the hard work of other creatives easily stirs up anger and angst in me. This is a stifling and serious vim killer.
Bright adds that, Validate Me captures “stories of encounters between the Spirits, intangible creative forces, and Robots, man-made machines, systems set up to validate the worth of the spirits.”
He questions the significance – cultural, personal or socio-economic – of systems like award schemes for example, that seem to dictate the worth of artists’ work. This inspires the question, do artists create for the love of art or for the love of approval?
Bright answers this question sincerely in a yoyo tinz interview where he says, “then we, too, be kitschy sometimes, painting pretty pictures of famous people for social media retweets and reposts and to boost wonna own fame. No cultural significance.”
Explaining the link between Validate Me and Spirit Robot, he continues:
The satire employed in my work only seeks to open discussions about this rigid insensitive machinery and its bearings on the cultural space we inhabit.
At CHALE WOTE 2016, Bright intends to “generate conversations around what happens when artists’ energies seek validation from systems” with the possibility of losing their own sense of identities in an effort to conform.
Be on the look out for Bright Ackwerh’s installation on August 20-21 at James Fort.
By KADI YAO TAY