A photography exhibition worth a thousand words [Review]

For five days within the ageing walls of the Warehouse on Lokko Road in Osu, Ghanaian photographer, Kwasi Kyei Mensah displayed several artistic and symbolic portraits that examined the process of finding one’s purpose in life at the photography exhibition titled Immanuel.

From images depicting the beginning of life to love and acceptance, the exhibition rallied visitors to do some soul searching and start critical conversations challenging the status quo.

Let’s cut to the chase and look at the key takeaways from Immanuel:

  1. The theme photographs took people on a journey about finding their purpose

The moment when the umbilical cord is cut at the point of birth is a defining moment in everyone’s life. It does not only mark your entry into this world, but it also signifies some form of independence – call it the ‘you are now on your own’ moment. From that juncture, the stage is set for life to begin. The family you are born into, the people you meet, the places you visit, the emotional encounters and the environment you are nurtured in, collectively shape who you become.

Kyei Mensah beautifully tells the emotional transition from birth into adulthood with emphasis on the effect of society’s expectations of us. But the question of contention was: Is who you are today, what you would have wanted to be without social expectations, pressures and conventions?

  1. The beauty of minimalism took centre stage

As a photographer who is a minimalist by nature and nurture, the theme photographs were rightfully in black and white – devoid of any distractions and vanity.  With most contemporary photography today showing high obsession for colour and retouching, Immanuel set itself apart by displaying strong black and white photographs on self-discovery, using the human body and emotional expressions as the vehicle of the message.

  1. The renowned global personalities that passed through

Immanuel saw a cross-section of creative art enthusiasts from Ghana and diverse notable personalities from other parts of the world. The long list includes: Mrs. Dzigbordi K. Dosoo, founder of Allure Africa Group; Spencer Smith, three-time world triathlon champion and legendary coach; Bob Dunn, renowned British online trading expert, Bob Dunn, Mark Davies, serial tech entrepreneur and founder of  Busy and Esoko;  Erana Stennett and Aguil Deng of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, among others.

  1. Heaven and hell co-habitted in one room for five nights

Can you imagine how a single room can contain heaven and earth side-by-side? Call it a feel of fire and ice. Two iconic portraits that drew immense praise from visitors at the exhibition were distinct images taken at night: one of a burning bush path in Gambaga and the other showing beachfront palm trees under the gaze of a towering white light and watchman. The varied yet recurring interpretations of the images by visitors highlighted the deep contrast between the two worlds of darkness and light.

  1. People fell in love with the Instagram-like square photos at the keepsake table

For many of the people that came to the exhibition, they needed to go home with a photographic reminder of this experience. Luckily, the Keepsake Table was seated in the centre of the exhibition hall just for that. Kyei Mensah carefully selected 18 photos of people and places with meaning from his Instagram set. The squared postcard-like photos were available for sale and the photos of landscapes and scenery run out by Saturday night. At least, almost every visitor got the chance to own a photo that will serve as a souvenir of Immanuel.

As the curtains closed on Saturday night, visitors make a bid for almost every portrait that was displayed at the exhibition, pointing to the strong potential photography exhibitions holds for Ghana’s art industry.

Source: Henry Derben

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