This year Gallery 1957, the Accra-based space, is participating in Untitled Art, Miami Beach for the first time. For the fair, they’ll present a solo booth of new works by Serge Attukwei Clottey. The Ghanaian artist, known for his work in performance and sculpture using discarded plastic containers, has studios in Accra and Los Angeles, and recently created a site-specific installation at Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Whitewaller asked the artist about what he’ll be showing in Miami this year.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about the work you’ll be showing with Gallery 1957 at Untitled Art?
SERGE ATTUKWEI CLOTTEY: I will be showing a selection of new plastic gallon sculptures as well as drawings in Miami. This is the first time that Gallery 1957 will be at Untitled Art, Miami Beach, so I am very excited to be showing these new works with them.
WW: Is there a theme or focus that ties all the work together?
SAC: The theme of the new works is “Time After Time.” They focus on concerns of mobility and migration, referring to the lines and colors which depict various settlements on maps.
WW: What materials did you work with for these pieces?
SAC: I work with gallon container plastic in my sculptural works, which act as a means of inquiry into the languages of form and abstraction. Some people describe the works as tapestries, as they resemble local textile traditions such as kente, a key reference in West African modernism throughout the 20th century.
WW: Did you experiment with anything new for this body of work?
SAC: In the new body of work I’ve worked specifically with barcode data, translating them into maps—adapting the information into a form which helps us to navigate people and places. The work examines how we are surrounded by an abundance of data through the materials we use and consume.
WW: Can you tell us about the term you use for your work, “Afrogallonism”?
SAC: “Afrogallonism” is a concept I began exploring when I started using the gallon containers as a material over 17 years ago. The plastic containers themselves are a powerful symbol, as they touch on issues of the environment, consumerism, and Ghana’s relations with the Western world. My practice involves cutting, melting, and stitching the versatile plastic material—originally filled with oil and sold to Ghana from the West—into these pieces of art. It is interesting to me that these gallon containers then often migrate back to the West, but now as artworks.
WW: Earlier this year, you unveiled a monumental installation at Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco. Can you tell us about that installation and about what kind of impact you wanted
to create there?
SAC: The work that was created for Facebook’s headquarters was made in my studio in Los Angeles. San Francisco, similarly to Accra, is also on the coast, so I was really interested in the migration of objects, and how the work traveled from one continent to another. I wanted to focus on how the work would interact with that space in particular, so that really influenced the form of the work during the creation process.
WW: Will you be in Miami for the fair? If so, what are you looking forward to seeing in and around the fair?
SAC: Yes, I will be at Miami for the fair. I can’t wait to hear the discussion and feedback around my work, and obviously I am looking forward to having a good time in the city!