Text by Elizabeth Fazzare, Architectural Digest
At this spring's 58th Venice Biennale, AD100 architect Sir David Adjaye will design Ghana's first national pavilion, announced the country's Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture on 25 February 2019. Inspired by classical Ghanaian structures, Adjaye's design (a collaboration with curator Nana Oforiatta Ayim) will feature elliptical, interconnected spaces to host large-scale installations by six artists who span three generations: El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Felicia Abban, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, John Akomfrah, and Selasi Awusi Sosu.
"Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement," said the British architect in a statement. It also showcases the breadth of the nation's artistic talent, he continued. Adjaye himself is no stranger to pavilion design, having created nearly 10 in recent years; his first at the Biennale was a 2003 collaboration with artist Chris Ofili for Britain. In 2017, AD revealed a backyard pavilion he designed for Design Miami founder Craig Robins's home in South Beach, Florida. And most recently, he put out a call for augmented-reality architecture proposals to run alongside this year's annual Serpentine Pavilion in London, to be built by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami. (Adjaye is a Serpentine trustee and was part of the team that selected West African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré for the 2017 design.)
In Venice, the Ghana pavilion will take cues from traditional regional residential architecture (circular mud houses, often with painted patterned exteriors), and its walls will be plastered with locally sourced earth. Named Ghanaian Freedom for the 1957 song that E.T. Mensah composed to celebrate the country's independence from Britain, the program focuses on the legacy of freedom through art. "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," said Oforiatta Ayim in a statement. "The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned; and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have yet to envision." The Biennale Arte will run from May 11 to November 24, 2019, and the pavilion will travel to Accra after Venice.
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