Poetics of Material Memory is a time capsule that cast’s life, identity and memory of second hand automobiles imported into Ghana in a visual poetry which unwraps into profoundly tangled narrative. Percy Nii Nortey, a young Ghanaian artist, debuted this work which features sound, video installation, performative sculptures and objects in a labyrinth form as his major solo exhibition at the ACCRA[dot]ALT space station, Brazil House, Jamestown.The exhibition welcomes the audience into a shrine of mechanical robots cast in motion and meditation against a backdrop of geometrically arranged dirty fabrics. These fabrics coloration is one that suggests an accumulation of shards of memory through human contacts (mechanics/fitters) before they were repurposed into an art piece. The fabrics on the white walls of the gallery echo a profound statement that seeks to decenter the normalizing trend of galleries being all white and sacrosanct.
The audience confronts a choreography of robots whose motion immediately makes them curious to know more about their back story. The three-dimensional revolving structures conjure an unearthing connection between the conscious body and the reflective mind. As the objects revolve by themselves on a pedestal, it is not the possible fictive of the process which captures the attention of the audience, but their overwhelming outlook. The objects present fragments of memory left behind by colliding and striving of secondhand auto-mobiles.
Again, what lingers on the mind is whether the objects after they have gone through the process of creation or extension of eternity – what I call auto-reincarnation- take on the DNA of the original objects or are transposed into a new realm of identity. This new form of living induced by the unique synthesis of materials/fabrics render the objects in a fragile hue even though their structural outlook suggests otherwise. The fresh embodiment of the objects transmigrate them into a new functional scope completely away from their previous cyclic existence. They assume a reality and a plasticity of their own.
The audience derives aesthetic significance from how an artist draws artistic impulse and inspiration from second-hand automobiles that have been used and undergone various operational situations. Percy Nii Nortey sees the space beyond the periphery of what is socially accepted as art and unmute objects that could easily be overlooked as redundant life. By doing so, he peels back our understanding of what art is and socially accepted especially within our Ghanaian context.
The exhibition is still open for public viewing till 26th April 2019 from 12pm every week day and people can catch a glimpse of it and immerse themselves in the mechanical art experience.
Written by Kwame Boafo
Images: Josephine Kuuire