The final day of The LABS at the Du Bois Centre flowed with the same energy as Day 4 did, carving new channels for knowledge production as well as probing the work some of the participating artists were bring to the festival. Day 5 also featured quite a number of film screenings and artists flows as we traced the course of the WATA MATA in preparation of the main weekend. There was also a create session for the Mami Wata procession taking place on Day 6 at Jamestown.
We started the day by screening three short films from final year film students of the University of Ghana. Speaking on a panel moderated by Nii Noi Adom, the budding filmmakers, Claudette Agyepomaa Ofori (Spirited, 2017), Gamel Baba Apalayine Jr (The Mob, 2017), and Christine Boateng (The Carrier, 2017) shared their respective journeys into filmmaking as well as the inspiration behind their work. Despite being complete novices, their films were a hit with the audience as they illuminated various issues that mainstream Ghanaian film industry ignores such as gender issues, sexual orientation and the perception arts amongst Ghanaian Society.
With a special focus on extreme sports this year, we also enjoyed a lively conversation on the experiences of the bikers and skaters who have been bringing their wild stunts to the festival each year. Martin Abrokwah of the Flat Land Boys, a BMX bike crew who are a constant presence at CHALE WOTE had a joyously revealing conversation with Nii Noi Adom about his practice and experience, having been an active stuntman for over 20 year. Surf Ghana, a skateboarding and surfing collective based in Accra and Busua also screened a documentary exposing the difficulties involved in attempting to grow skateboarding and surfing culture in Ghana.
The next Artist Flows, on Rituals, Environment, and Disrupting Historical Memory featuring Martin Toloku (Ghana), Lenneke Bisschop (Netherlands), and Chriss Nwobu (Nigeria), was an sort of open surgery on performance art orchestrated by moderator Moshood Balogun. Steering the conversation with nautical precision, Moshood got the artists to unravel the ethos of their work, especially how it relates to WATA MATA. Lenneke and Chriss who will be performing Rituals of Becoming during the weekend inside James Fort, both found water and interesting facet of their development as performance artists coming from Amsterdam and Lagos respectively, where water runs through the heart both cities. Martin Toloku whose work at the festival titled Hidden From View, compelled him to collaborate with fish and termites in his sculpture installation unveiled his creative process from fetching the logs from the Volta River to processing them with his organic aides.
Pamela Ohene-Nyako then moderated the next panel for the day was on Chaos, Body Technologies and Community Regeneration Systems featuring Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (Ghana), John Herman (Germany), and DJ Noss (Martinique). They shared their insight on the many different ways the body and community can be both the inspiration and canvas for their art. Va-Bene, spoke about the evolution of his performance and how he developed a method of staying strong during durational performance by feeding of the energy his audience exudes. His performance in James Fort with John Herman titled Bond[H20] will seek to unravel the nexuses of metaphorical boundaries.
As a break from the absorbing conversations and engineering taking place at The LABS, House Music connoisseur, DJ Sensei LO from Nigeria served up a brief but sweet dose of her enchanting afro-house potion. Her pulsating set, a preview of the wave she will be riding during the weekend at the Highlife Cafe stage, Mantse Agbonaa, was the perfect way to freshen up for the night’s activities as well as forge new connections with the dozens of interesting people at The LABs.
In the second half of the day we enjoyed film screenings from our many different artists. We started with 5 films: Thought We Had Something Going (TWHSG) (South Africa, 2017), Lhola Amira: Looking for Ghana & The Red Suitcase (Lhola Amira, 2017), Kitchwateli (2011, Muchiri Njenga), and Everybody You Know is Here (Addoley Akosuah Dzegede, 2017).
To finish off the day we had 2 more screening sessions. The first with 4 films: A Man’s Story (2017, Fernando Arrioja), Keys of Life (2017, Vusi Magubane), Mdree-Bahree Land of the Sea (2017,Miriam Haile), Body as Technology (2016, Sharrae Lyon), and Coping (2016, Edem Dotse). Director Edem Dotse whose film spotlighted an aspect of mental health in Ghana shared with the audience the research he had to do to produce the film. For Edem, Coping which debuted at the Sabolai Radio LABs in December 2016 has done a good job of starting conversation on how mental health patients are treated in Ghana.
To conclude The LABs, Nana Osei Quarshie spoke to performance artist Kwame Boafo who starred in the stark and sometimes jarring performance art film, Nutricula (2015, Yasen Vasiley), and Dr. Njoki Ngumi and Sunny Dolat of The NEST Collective on crime and vigilantism in web series,Tuko Macho, (2016). Tuko Macho stirred up some interesting views among the audience as most where spilt on where they stand on the ethics of Vigilantism. For Njoki and Sunny from The Nest Collective, Tuko Macho as a project has evolved into an open forum where each audience around the world has a different interpretation of its core themes.
Check out the slider above for all the images from The LABs. Catch up on all the other day of CHALE WOTE 2017 with our Recap Series.
For Day 6 & 7 of CHALE WOTE 2017, we’re at Jamestown from midday till 10PM each day. Check out the full program to know exactly when the processions and exhibition inside James Fort and Brazil House will take place. Dzala Butiq, our street art fair is also coming to CHALE WOTE. Come take piece of history along with you by investing in art.
Written by Hakeem Adam & Carly Friesen
Photos: Nii Kotei Nikoi & Abdul Arafat