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Chale Wote 2020 festival takes off in Accra

The Chale Wote Street Art Festival is marking its tenth anniversary with all the usual verve – but this year’s celebration of guerrilla art is equal parts virtual and “in the flesh”

This year marks the tenth edition of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival and it promises to be one with a difference.

Given the lingering presence of COVID-19 worldwide, the 2020 festival, which opened on Friday, is assuming a virtual dimension.

Africa’s biggest independent street art festival will host 33 artists this year to share their work with the world.

There will be 23 Ghana-based artists taking part, together with ten international artists, from Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

End of the nation state?

The theme for this year’s festival – “Counter State Mythology” – foreshadows the impending remodelling of our world beyond the nation state by looking at the nameless and the unknown.

The theme seeks to acknowledge realities beyond the boundaries of the sea. As a concept rooted in Ga philosophy and folklore, the ocean is the boundary that separates our perception of reality from the mystery of things for which we do not have names – things yet to be learned and lived.

Life not yet imagined

These attempts to imagine the unimaginable and grasp unknown unknowns will figure in the experience of the art on display in Chale Wote 2020. For the first time in a decade, the festival will be bereft of the crowds of patrons from all walks of life who crowd the streets of Old Accra during this annual event to experience art in its raw form.

Chale Wote 2018
Chale Wote 2018

Instead, most of them will be sampling the art digitally. The street art festival will be streamed live on virtual portals. There will be everything from panel labs of artists and installations through musical performances, experimental film and documentaries to live mural painting.

The curators anticipate they will reach an audience of 100,000 art lovers worldwide over the duration of the festival. There will also be streaming of footage from the early years of Chale Wote to honour alumni participating artists and relive some of the most exciting moments from the festival.

Chale Wote 2020 will also highlight the “yeeyeyee” twins celebration, a traditional rite performed during the Hɔmɔwɔ festival of the Ga people of Accra, and explore how old rituals respond to global emergencies and constraints.

The London-based Ghanaian vinyl DJ, collector and archivist Bernard Johnson-Tackie (Volta 45) will work the decks while delving into data collection and how to sustain preservation systems for African music. Why is Africa’s treasure trove of music shackled in the Western metropolis, he asks.

What to look out for

Martin Toloku, performance artist

An investigation into history behind dead and rotten wood in their period of existence in the natural and human environment.

Chale Wote 2020: Martin Toloku artwork
Seven states of wood: artwork by Martin Toloku
Association of Unknown Shores

Kayle Brandon, Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, Cleo Lake and Angela Piccini will come together with their sceptre to address the legacies of colonialism.

Afuabe

This is a multidisciplinary Accra-based contemporary art collective of Ghanaian and African diasporic creators who use art as a historical tool of psycho-relief and liberation.

Dark Suburb

An Afro-rock band built on a concept of the Alkebulanian (African) masquerade culture and the skeleton. Dark Suburb is driven by a social development concept of the deprived (dark suburbs of society) who evolve their own opportunities through art and culture.

The Ashawos

The Ashawos are a three-man rock band from La (two guitarists – one of whom is the lead vocalist – and a drummer).

Screening: Ramatu Go Box

Adu and Alex are film-makers who are creating documentaries telling authentic African stories to compel a modern audience. Their film Ramatu Go Box is a profile of West Africa’s best-known boxing community, in Bukom, James Town, seen through the eyes of one of its up-and-coming female fighters, the eponymous Ramatu.

Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng

The Chale Wote Street Art Festival 2020 runs until 23 August. For more information click on this link or call 026 146 9710.

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