16.05, 17.05, 21 — 23.05.2024

Kwame Boafo Accra


dance — premiere

Arts et Métiers - Institut Marguerite Massart

Accessible for wheelchair users with assistanceSeating without backrest | ⧖ ±1h | €16 / €13

Can a choreography intertwine different movements, like those of a human body and the flow of goods in a globalised world? Artist Kwame Boafo lives and works in Accra, Ghana, where he plans to open an institute of movement and philosophy. Accra is also the port city through which European end-of-life cars enter the West African market, often after being reconditioned in Brussels. With Threshold, Boafo creates a beautiful solo using visually refined images and movements relating to car fragments to unfold a poetic dialogue between choreography and commercial history. He collaborated with artist Percy Nii Nortey, known to use found objects and materials from mechanical workshops in Ghana to tell the stories collected by these end-of-life cars. For this performance, in collaboration with students from the Institut Marguerite Massart, he created a curtain out of Ghanaian fabrics used to clean the vehicles that arrive from Brussels. Now, presented in the monumental atrium of the Arts et Métiers building – located in the canal area from which cars usually depart – Threshold appears as a visceral composition, dancing in the unexpressed spaces between our presence, environmental degradation and consumerism. In this performance, we suddenly feel the human and non-human movements in our global economy.

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Threshold embodies a journey of exploration, a continuous research dialogue between humans and non-humans, spatiotemporal mobility, and memories. The research initiated in 2018, rooted in playful wanderings during my curation of Percy Nii Nortey’s inaugural solo exhibition titled Poetics of Material Memory. The exhibition offered me a space to play, question, fail, move, and engage with objects that mimic the poignant lives and memories of end-of-life automobiles imported to Ghana from Europe and North America.

Threshold takes its title from a performance conceived in 2015 but never realised due to visa rejections and logistical challenges. For me, Threshold is a time capsule that is yet to be opened, holding within it the stories and histories of humans and non-humans that have traversed across and within multiple geospatial locations, knowledges, purposes, meanings, and fragilities. It explores the liminal space between materiality and memory through a multidisciplinary approach that combines movement, sound, and visual art installation.

Through this immersive performance dialogue, I aim to encounter unexpected tensions, discoveries and choreographies, where the human body becomes a medium for narrating the geo-porting of goods, and humans and echoing memories in a delicate dance. In this delicate dance, I forge an intimate connection with objects, navigating through shifting uncertainties and profound anxieties. By exploring the interplay between movement and memory, I hope to provoke contemplation on the interconnectedness of consumerism and environmental sustainability. What becomes of end-of-life automobiles when, passing through Brussels, they end up in a West African city? What should we make of these valuable machines, which are equally deadly weapons of pollution and waste? These questions delineate my exploration of the impact of global trade on local communities and the environment. In answering these questions, I draw on end-of-life automobiles as vessels that demonstrate the coexistence of various moments in time and space, both visibly and viscerally.

This performance destabilises our perceptions of materiality and memory, propelling us towards an inquiry into the emotional and political narratives woven into the intricate relationships between flows of goods, environmental sustainability, and the unequal power dynamics in global trade.

Threshold endeavours to foster novel dialogues about how end-of-life automobiles are repackaged and repurposed to serve new urban imperatives and fragilities as they adopt new life, functionalities, memories, and durability.

In this grid-like movement performance, the audience is urged to recognise their place within the intricate choreography of global dynamics encompassing environmental sustainability, consumerism, and the circulation of goods. We are prompted to acknowledge the interwoven systems that, though seemingly benign in one context, can yield both positive and negative repercussions elsewhere.

There is no didactic finality to this performance, only a choreographic mess that expands and contracts in a continuous cycle of sound, movement, and a sense of breathless glee and despair.

Having been away from performing for about four and a half years due to graduate school, the impact of COVID-19, and the tumultuous events in the world, Threshold emerges as an ode to rediscovering my bodily presence. Overwhelmed by the accumulation of varied routines, rhythms, postures, and vulnerabilities, I find solace in the realms of movement, slowness, breath, and silence –a means to transcend the confines and constraints of academic life. It is a paradoxical journey for me, as I recognise that movement itself entails a displacement of the body. Thus, in my return to corporeal awareness, I embark on a dual displacement –to arrive or not at a space of articulation. This process mirrors the transformation experienced by end-of-life automobiles upon reaching a mechanic’s workshop in Ghana –they undergo mechanical surgery and are disassembled and reassembled and given layered memories, fragility, vitality, and functionality. The end-of- life automobiles convey memories through time and space and highlight the uneven process of decay when they hit the roads in Ghana.

  • Kwame Boafo, April 2024

Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Institut Marguerite Massart
Choreography and performance: Kwame Boafo | Art installation and set design: Percy Nii Nortey in collaboration with students from Institut Marguerite Massart: Ali Iedo, Moâad Bouihrouchane, Mamadoudian Diallo, Mohammed Khlifa, Ilyas Jadi Moussa, Darlinshy Biala, Moise Engendo, Hatem Ben Alaya, Mariam Ouadrhiri, Haythem Marhfour, Nadir Senhaji, Daoud Hammas Driss, Hamza Sehimi, Jean Dierickx, Mohamed-Amin Derraz El Kabir | Sound artist: Hakeem Adam | Dramaturge: Yasen Vasilev
Commissioned and produced by Kunstenfestivaldesarts

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