Photos (Day 1): Chale Wote Street Art Festival 2017 #ChaleWote2017

The opening ceremony for the 7th annual CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival took place at the ACCRA [dot] ALT space in James Town, Brazil House yesterday as “The Day of ReMembering” and an opening exhibition for CHALE WOTE 2017.

The 7th edition of the street art festival themed WATA MATA, was marked by spectacular live performances, a preview of what the packed festival week of exhibitions, film screenings, workshop labs, artists talks, mixers and live art performances has in store.

ACCRA [dot] ALT co-director Sionne Neely speaking at the opening exhibition of CHALE WOTE 2017 || Photo; Nii Kotei Nikoi

Logistics Coordinator with ACCRA [dot] ALT and James Town resident, Samoa Mark-Kpakpo Hansen, opened the event by contextualizing what WATA MATA means within this environment. Also a Ga traditional priest, Samoa poured libations and opened the communication channels. He discussed the division of religion and science and connected this to how water is a sacred form of life, autonomy, community and imagination. Samoa’s interpretation of WATA MATA is as a binding agent, both spiritually and physically, especially in James Town where life is centred around the ocean, and therefore, can be used as a potent tool or technology to generate our deepest visions.

Logistics Coordinator with ACCRA [dot] ALT and James Town resident, Samoa Mark-Kpakpo Hansen contextualizing WATA MATA at the opening exhibition || Photo: Nii Kotei Nikoi

Following this opening, the audience witnessed the “Badboy BODY Electronics” of the Hutor Adzimashie Bali and the Hu-Koku Association. These men of steel from the Torgbui Adzima Shrine in Torgodo, Volta Region sparked a fire with their electrifying performance practice. The ensemble – including dancers and musicians – showed how internal technologies can take over as the men taunted and defied death many times – cutting their faces, torsos, necks and limbs with long knives; bathing their bodies in fire; and disgorging long spools of thread.

Another enthralling performance took place with Tifali Cultural Consults, a 25-women performance art collective, exploring the move to Spirit Robot, the theme for CHALE WOTE 2016, where pan-African imaginative visions link up to form a structure or system that we can all tap into for resources when needed. Their performance art piece entitled “K3 Yei (…and the women…)”, used an innovative mix of contemporary and traditional dance with music exploring the love, verve, warrior spirit and solidarity of women-based practices.

“Badboy BODY Electronics” by Hutor Adzimashie Bali and the Hu-Koku Association at the opening exhibition of CHALE WOTE 2017 || Photo: Nii Kotei Nikoi

A special part of The Day of ReMembering was how performers, CHALE WOTE artists, James Town residents and audience members partook in this collective and sacred cleansing process. Together we recollect the traumatic histories experienced in James Town through the transatlantic enslaved trade but we also bear witness to how we can regenerate and innovate our historical realities. Members of the Hu-Koku Association, Samoa Mark-Kpakpo Hansen and STELOO led a wondrous procession from Brazil Lane to James Fort’s Oyenyi Gardens, a former prison that also once held Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for 10 months prior to Ghana’s independence.

“K3 Yei” by Tifali at the opening exhibition of CHALE WOTE 2017 || Photo: Nii Kotei Nikoi

STELOO, on a trolley outfitted with fat speakers and a large-winged white suit, set a melancholic mood in motion with spellbinding electronic and ambient music for the walk, re-centering James Town’s vast historical importance to the country and West Africa, as a major point of capture/departure for the enslaved, and therefore, the portal for re-entry and reunification of African peoples.

STELOO leading the procession from Brazil Lane to James Fort’s Oyenyi Gardens || Photo: Nii Kotei Nikoi

The exhibition at Brazil House is open throughout the week and features the work of Ghana-based and international artists on both floors of the building. Day 2 of CHALE WOTE 2017 (Tuesday, August 15) features a creative writing masterclass led by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Director of the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at Brazil House (bottom floor) for 8 selected writers from 2-4:30pm. Following this, CHALE WOTE 2017 participant, April Bey (U.S.), delivers a lecture, shares some screenings and takes part in a Q+A with the audience on “Dolezalism and Jollof Rice”, at the National Theatre (Folkspace) from 6-8pm.

Ghanaian artist Sel Kofiga next to his installation, ‘Umbrage – Making Faces’ at the opening exhibition of CHALE WOTE 2017 || Photo: Nii Kotei Nikoi


See more photos from Day 1 of CHALE WOTE 2017 below.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Opening events for the 2017 edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival.

Source: Accra[dot]alt

What to Expect at CHALE WOTE 2017

The Open Gallery, collaboration with 15 Accra-area art and cultural institutions showcasing the diverse splendor of African art, films and performances (August 14 – 20).

-The Day of ReMembering, the opening ceremony for CHALEWOTE 2017 kicks off on Monday, August 14th (5 – 7pm, ACCRA [dot] ALT space in James Town).

– The LABS, two days of artist talks, film screenings, special performances and workshops that dig into and explore WATA MATA, the theme for this year’s festival (August 17 + 18, 12noon – 9pm)

– The final two days of the festival take place in James Town (August 19 + 20, 1 – 9pm). This year, the festival amplifies the number of art works and installations at 10 specific locations across James Town. Social fun, parties and jamming will happen also at 4 different music and performance stages. This change means the streets will be used to create smoother flows of human traffic within the festival.

The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets.

CHALE WOTE includes a vibrant mix of visual art, photography, films, fashion, mixed media, interventions, processions, live music, dance, panels, discussions, tours, food and more.

Over the last six years, CHALE WOTE has propelled the development of an independent creative and arts economy in Accra. By engaging artists within the city, the festival is giving Accra a facelift, revealing interconnected collectives working in multidisciplinary practices that form the pulse of CHALE WOTE.

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