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AWAY IS A PLACE, art approaching local resistance against global injustice

Globalized capitalism and neoliberal economies bring serious social and environmental problems. Large divides are created by rich countries through the looting of natural resources as well as the excessive consumerism and the disposal of waste in poor countries, where pollution and poverty grow.

Public space in African cities is increasingly economicized and privatized by transnational companies, and inhabitants often become victims of forced evictions. Omnipresent advertisement brandings produce visual pollution in urban and rural space.

In the course of this unsound development in contested spaces, can nature, diversity and local homes and cultures be sustained? What is the role of art in addressing problems that effect people and environment? In what ways can we use art work to research, intervene, speak out, work collaboratively, and awaken conciousness? Where and how can artists join local communities, transdisciplinary teams, and international networks to address global affairs affecting local issues? How can art foster sustainability? And how can we apply these questions to contemporary problems in Ghana?

We will look at art history and nature’s past, at early and contemporary forms of environmental destruction and social injustice. We will discuss forms of protest, activism, art action and public intervention. We will research myths and narratives of the essence of nature, air and water, of gods and spirits. We will exchange between Ghanain/African, European, and American cultures. Together we will read texts on urban space, social practice, activism as well as on artistic interventions through symbolic, aesthetic, and practical means. 

As a starting point for our art work, we will map the public space around the city Kumasi and the village Abetenim to find fields of interest. We will invite local people to join us in the village, in the city, and in the market place.

Participants in the workshop will work as a collective, where everyone is considered both a learner and a teacher with valuable contributions to offer. We will learn from local residents and craftspeople in the villages around Kumasi. We might create new Adinkra symbols, carve calabash and print cloth. We might intervene in urban space, paint houses, create street art or exhibit and perform in a market booth.


HMJokinen is a visual artist and curator, born in Finland, living and working in Germany. Projects and art exhibitions in Ghana, Tanzania and China, European countries and the USA. Research of (post)colonial histories as well as of encounters with the Self and the Other; art in urban space, participatory projects and publications.

Charlie Michaels is a visual artist and educator from the United States. Based between Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, his interests focus on bridging gaps between divergent communities and humans with nature in urban spaces. Charlie’s studio work and public projects have been shown throughout the United States in Chicago, New York and Detroit and internationally in Ghana, Italy, and Germany.


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