An Introduction to “Afrogallonism”
Serge Attukwei Clottey, “Headlines” (2020), plastic and copper wire, 83 x 88 inches
LONDON — In Serge Attukwei Clottey’s exhibition, Crossroads at Simon Lee gallery, the Accra-based multidisciplinary artist uses found materials to explore Ghanaian culture and identity. Several of his large-scale pieces are brightly colored mosaics Clottey created by bounding together square pieces of plastic from Kufuor gallons. Named after Ghana’s then-president John Agyekum Kufuor, these jerrycans were used to collect and store water when the country was suffering from severe shortages in the 2000s. The artist calls the usage and exploration of this material Afrogallonism, for the way this practice highlights the gallon as, at once, a ubiquitous symbol of recent Ghanaian cultural history, a representation of the environmental injustice of water scarcity across the continent, and an object that tells the story of exchange between Ghana and the West. As such, these large, vibrant orange-yellow tapestries appear repeatedly across the two floors of the exhibition like a motif.