Ghana Freedom

Ghana Freedom

Ghana Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Plan sketch of the Ghana Pavilion by Sir David Adjaye OBE. Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

February 24, 2019
Ghana Freedom
May 11–November 24, 2019
Ghana Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana proudly announces Ghana’s First National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Featured artists: Felicia Abban, John Akomfrah, El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Commissioner: Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana 
Curator: Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Architect: Sir David Adjaye OBE
Strategic Advisor: Okwui Enwezor


Ghana will present its first national pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, from May 11–November 24, 2019. (Preview days: May 8, 9, 10, 2019).

The first Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Biennale Arte will take place under the patronage of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Prominently situated in the Artiglierie of the historic Arsenale, the Ghanaian pavilion started as an idea by Sir David Adjaye and Nana Oforiatta Ayim. Their combined knowledge and tireless work resulted in Ghana joining the world stage as a cultural force with six of its leading artists from the Mid 20th Century up to the present day. Exploring the historical and cultural intersection of ideas linking the works of the six artists, Sir David Adjaye has designed an architecture that will showcase newly commissioned works and one historical body of work. Each artist will exhibit in an elliptically-shaped space which draws inspiration from the traditional earth houses built in the village of Sirigu in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The exhibition walls will be plastered with locally-sourced earth from the area, giving a sense of place and coherence as visitors move through the gallery spaces whilst offering a reflection of life in Ghana over the past Century.

Entitled Ghana Freedom, after the song composed by E.T. Mensah on the eve of the independence of the new nation in 1957, the pavilion examines the legacies and trajectories of that freedom through the work of six artists from three generations. Rooted both in Ghanaian culture and its diasporas, the pavilion exhibition will include large-scale installations by El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama; representation and portraiture by prominent photographer Felicia Abban and painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; and a three-channel film projection by John Akomfrah and a video sculpture by Selasi Awusi Sosu.

In addition, the Ghana Pavilion exhibition will include a publication with a foreword by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; foreword by Honorable Catherine Afeku, and contributions by Sir David Adjaye, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Okwui Enwezor, Taiye Selasi, Hakeem Adam, Adjoa Armah, Mae-ling Lokko, Kuukuwa Manful, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo. There will be a series of platforms during the Biennale, and Ghana Freedom will travel from Venice to Accra after the Biennale. 


Nana Oforiatta Ayim, curator of the pavilion, says, “It means a lot for us to have our first national pavilion at such a narrative-building event as the Venice Biennale, especially at this moment. The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our ‘year of return’; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned, and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world; and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have yet to envision.”

Sir David Adjaye says, “Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer. The commitment and inspiration shown by the President in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community.”

Honorable Catherine Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture says, “This is a historic moment for us in Ghana. Arts and culture are the very soul of a nation, and with our maiden entry to the Venice Biennale, under the leadership of His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I can say, we have arrived.”


Ghana Pavilion, Artiglierie, Arsenale, Venice
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @ghanainvenice

For media Enquiries:
Jane Quinn, Bolton & Quinn T +44 (0)20 7221 5000, jq [​at​]  

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Ghana Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
February 24, 2019

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