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Curated by Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo
In the midst of the busy city of Adum in Kumasi, stands a seemingly abandoned locomotive shed belonging to the Ghana Railway Authority. Old colonial architectural styles stand side by side modern architectural forms, as old corrugated rail lines lead into active market spaces. Offices have turned into living spaces for workers in the station who seem to be off the government’s payroll. Other office spaces have also been turned into rooms for homeless people and drug addicts. The same space nurtures various species of plant life. Rail lines disappear into habitations and resurface in different parts. Private companies now occupy structures that served as warehouses and workshops for the railway. The railway system which started operations in 1898 under the Gold Coast civil service experienced a total decline of its operations since 2001. Understanding the importance of a railway system to the economic development of a nation like Ghana, the current government has followed efforts of its predecessors and has put measures into place to revamp and expand the system beyond Takoradi, Kumasi, and Accra to other parts of the nation.
Missing Links is a solo exhibition that interrogates the railway system through the practice of photographer Deryk Owusu Bempah as he questions the collapse of a system that was under the Ministry of Transport – the same ministry that overlooked the flourishing road systems. Does the revamp raise the question of gentrification? What will happen to the many people who have found a home in the shelters of the railway structure?
Owusu Bempah’s images of the railways depict uninhabited spaces, which are digitally manipulated and constructing his own version of these spaces. The exhibition will map the railway network, making use of wall surfaces and billboards that are along the tracks and at the main stops (the image below shows the existing railway network). The exhibition also considers the railway as a space of collective memory. Thus, a publication containing texts based on the stories of the railway workers from its heyday until now, as recounted by the workers and inhabitants of its spaces, will accompany the exhibition.
1. Deryk Owusu Bempah, Ghana Railway Kumasi tableau 2.
2. Deryk Owusu Bempah, Ghana Railway Kumasi tableau 4.
3. Deryk Owusu Bempah, Ghana Railway Kumasi tableau 5.
About the Curator
Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo is currently pursuing her MFA in Curatorial Studies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. She holds a BFA in Painting from the same institution. She has been part of the curatorial team for the annual exhibition held by blaxTARLINES, a project space for contemporary art at the Department of Painting and Sculpture, KNUST. Since her participation as an artist in the 2014 exhibition held at the Nubuke Foundation, titled KNUST End of Year Show (the first of the annual exhibitions), she has played a curatorial role in the following: The Gown Must Go Town (2015) and Cornfields in Accra (2016), both held at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra, Ghana.