For the past decade, Ibrahim Mahama has been interested in objects in a state of decay, transforming them to explore themes of migration, globalization, and economic exchange in relation to the history of Ghana. His large-scale installations employ materials gathered from urban environments, junkyards, or abandoned buildings. These can include remnants of wood, metal, or jute sacks, but also historical textiles that transmit previously silenced memories and stories. In realizing E PAIN ME as well as IN THE GARDEN, the two sculptural tapestries he puts in conversation with HKW’s historic architecture, Mahama employs stitching techniques inspired by traditional weaving practices widely found across West Africa. In creating these canvases of memory, he poetically engages in a healing process while unearthing and translating their embedded knowledges to a contemporary audience. From the junkyard owners who collect objects in decay to the weavers the artist invites as co-makers, collaboration is essential to the realization of the work. Mahama places a strong importance on passing down skills and memory through artistic creation, aiming to shift paradigms of education and knowledge circulation while also performing collective acts of rewriting history. 

Commissioned by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), co-produced by Ibrahim Mahama; Red Clay Studio, Tamale; and HKW, 2023.

Works in the exhibition: E PAIN ME (2023), installation of historical hand-woven fabrics, synthetic cotton, 20 × 30 m (Les Nana Benz Terrace); IN THE GARDEN (2023), installation of historical hand-woven fabrics, synthetic cotton, 19,6 × 4,5 × 19,1 × 9,1 m (Anna Seghers and Semra Ertan Gardens). Courtesy of the artist; Apalazzo Gallery, Brescia; White Cube Gallery, London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach; and Red Clay Studio, Tamale