No second-hand goods but ideas
Container-project of Foundation Bijlmer Meer Art
by Henno Heggenkamp
Every week many sea containers from Holland end up in Tema, the harbour in Ghana. Containers which are full of second hand goods. From cars, freezers and sewing machines to computers and newspapers. These goods find their way to the markets in Ghana and other countries in West Africa. The other way round, there is little -except for raw materials like cacao and coffee- exported from Ghana and surrounding countries to Holland. West Africa has many skilled craftsmen, but little industrial or other products that the European consumer wants.
With this one-way traffic overseas, ideas are transported alongside. Ideas about used and useful goods, making money, capitalism and dependency on the west. Isn't the time right for new relations?
Foundation Bijlmer Meer Art came with the idea of building up new trade contacts trough artists. A contact that is open to confrontations, provocations and exchange of solutions for problems signalled by the other.
Artist from Holland and West Africa are being asked to put their 'stories' in a container. A container with new, idealistic exports articles. First it is Ghana's turn since most immigrants from West Africa in Holland are Ghanaians and the past year Holland and Ghana commemorated the fact that 300 years ago a Dutch merchant shook hands with an Ashanti king.
The Dutch art duo Spijker and Splinter will fill the first container with four typical Dutch houses- in- a- row from the polder, built on scale. The houses with appurtenances will tell something about Dutch cosiness ('gezelligheid'), planning, structure, design and family life. In Ghana the container will travel trough Accra and Kumasi, where it will run aground: the houses will get a place on the local market. A film crew of the Art College in Kumasi will report what will happen then.
Famous Ghanaian artists such as Ablade Glover, Kofi Setordji, Glen Turner and Massimo Wanssi will deal with the empty container. Their input will get a permanent location in the Dutch residential quarter Bijlmer, where most "Dutch" Ghanaians live. In the future, containers from Togo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal etc. will be added. In this way a West African 'trade post' in Holland will come into being. One about -narrative- goods.