Acrylic and emulsion paint over a Ghanaian movie poster for the JK video club by Sunil Shetty.
‘These posters were once the product of a much larger industry known as the “Ghanaian Mobile Cinema”. This business started in the late 1980’s when people formed video clubs. With a television, vcr, vhs tapes, and a portable generator they’d travel throughout Ghana setting up make-shift screening areas in villages void of electricity. An interesting selection of movies became popular because of this trade including both Hollywood action and horror, low budget american B movies, Bollywood, Hong Kong martial arts films and native Ghanaian and Nigerian features.
As more people gained interest in this rising business, competition arose. Mobile cinema operators found a need to set their products apart so they begun advertising. With no affordable access to printing, the hand-painted movie poster was the most logical advertising vehicle. Skilled local artists were now part of this growing entertainment industry in Ghana, and they brought their own touch to each film they were called to promote. By sewing together two used flour sacks, a perfect sized canvas for a movie poster was created….’
As an area where western and African cultures merged so frequently I felt it a perfect next step for something for me to embellish. The image over the top again is throwaway – enlarged from a thumbprint illustration on the back of a nordic heavy metal magazine. I felt aesthetically the painting is illustrative in an almost comic book sense and would house this kind of heavy metal icon well despite their completely different origins.
Again the image was very much created with the rest of the series in mind and my experimentation was to do with an aesthetic rather than a comment.
In a way its a celebration of how readily available these kinds of niche items now are thanks to the internet but perhaps it also outlines how tragically undervalued they are. I attempted to trace the paintings back through their seller to very limited results – he had bought a number of these style paintings in bulk many years before when he lived in Ghana directly from the video club and never met the artists.
It was now I realised something was really missing from the works. I began to think about adding fiction to tie the pieces together. I was playing the role of a globetrotting artist from many years prior who travelled to the far reaches of the globe in order for him to find the perfect items on which to paint. His character would be a selfish Indiana Jones meets tin tin on a bad day with a bit of Del Boy Trotter thrown in, it would make a great tv series.
It came to me however that if the story were fully imagined it would most likely end in the protagonist’s realisation his interest was not in the artefacts or how he adapted them but what he learnt and who he met along the way. This got me to thinking how the Ebay transaction was removing personal connection and experience to the items I was purchasing and beginning to make the process a little dull.
I realised I should stop relying on the object’s histories to make the end results interesting but rather make my own interesting stories that the object’s can play a smaller part in.