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Ibrahim Mahama

15m-high sails rise from the ground on ‘masts’ of rail tracks, flapping freely in the wind and bringing the landscape to life. The gigantic sails are made of pieced together hessian sacks and have been hoisted in the Vang neighbourhood of Holbæk, home to people from over 30 different countries.

In 2015 Mahama spent a month in Denmark, also in the Vang Area, where he listened to the migration stories of local residents. This provided the background for his sail project. As an artist, Mahama usually makes artworks in collaboration with others – and often on a scale that seems virtually impossible.

More than once he has covered entire tower blocks or bridges in Ghana with hundreds of square metres of ‘garments’ made of used sacks bought in Ghana. The used sacks interest him because of the stories they embody, including the story of the goods – like cocoa, coal and coffee – they have carried.

In collaboration with a group of undocumented migrant workers in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, he sews them together to form monumental patchworks. The workers leave their own marks, including their names, on sacks that already bear the traces of wear and tear, numbers, etc. Mahama thus creates temporary monuments to the circulation of goods, but also of humans, telling the story of how people struggle to adapt to new systems, like those in the Danish neighbourhood of Vang.

Born in 1987, Tamale, Ghana, where he still lives and works, Ibrahim Mahama received his MFA in Painting and Sculpture from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. In 2012 he began producing 'Occupations', a series of itinerant installations made in collaboration with migrant communities using industrial materials, namely jute fiber sacks used to carry various commodities. His work has been included in a number of group shows including Pangea I and Pangea II at Saatchi Gallery, London, Silence Between The Lines in Ahenema Kokobeng, Kumasi, Gown must Go To Town, Accra and the 56th Venice Biennale.


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Julie Damgaard Nielsen