by Anthony R. Green
The main purpose of my trip is to attend the perfocraze International Artist Residency (pIAR), directed by the incredible performance artist Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi, better known as crazinisT artisT. Based in Kumasi, this residency launched in 2018, but had its official opening in January 2019. Since, it has hosted a myriad of artists of various different practices, including local artists, African artists, and artists outside of Africa. The projects that have been launched here have a wide range, from abstract, experimental art to radical, political art. crazinsT artisT herself has a strong, respected history of controversial art that has changed the fabric of contemporary art in Ghana and abroad. She runs this residency bringing knowledge from her numerous international experiences in Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States, and more. Even though my stay at pIAR has been quite short, the amount of education and growth I have received from crazinisT artisT, the other residents and staff, and being here in Kumasi has been immense.
Photo: En route to Kumasi on the V.I.P. Bus
I opted for a 5-hour bus ride to Kumasi instead of a short flight, not only because I did not want to deal with the airport coronavirus circus, but I also wanted to see a bit of the landscape. During this trip, my eyes were constantly attached to the window, looking out towards the changing towns, changing environment, changing people, and more. In high-traffic areas when the bus was at a standstill, women selling snacks and refreshing drinks (that they carry on their head) would walk in between cars to sell to the drivers and passengers. At a rest stop, some incredible music was streamed from a loud system, welcoming anyone who needed a stretch and a bit of fresh air. I marveled at the depth of redness of the earth here in Ghana, and couldn’t help but think that the red-yellow-green color system of the Ghanaian flag represented earth-sun-grass. (This is actually not true; the red symbolizes the blood of those who died for Ghanaian independence, the yellow is actually GOLD and it represents the natural mineral wealth of Ghana, and the green represents the rich forests in the country. The black star in the middle represents African freedom in general.)
Video: At pIAR in Kumasi
When I arrived at the Oduom stop, I was taken to the residency by Wadak Smash and Martin Toloku (who is also an incredible performance artist). The reception upon entering the gates was indescribable. It was subtle, but powerful – full of understanding and expectation, but also acknowledgement and affirmation of an energy that has existed far before we could fathom or witness. Martin and crazinisT artisT showed me around the facilities, introduced me to people, gave me some water, and then gave me time to settle. That night, as I remain ready to give presentations and offered to give one on my official arrival day, I talked about my music and artistic practice to the residents and staff in the courtyard, with a PowerPoint presentation that was projected upon a giant wall. The weather was perfect, the environment was open, the discussion became intense and necessary … and it’s all captured on Instagram (for those willing to see)! Follow @perfocraze_international for incredible content from this residency, and to watch my presentation specifically, scroll down to the video post from July 6th.
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