Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture is an exhibition of large-scale posters hand painted on flour sacks to advertise Hollywood, Bollywood, Kung Fu, Nollywood and Ghanaian films circulating in Ghana during the 1980s and 1990s. The posters and the venues where they were shown have become obsolete, as viewing has shifted from makeshift theaters to in home film viewing. The exhibit will feature a recreation of the traditional cinematic space, reproducing key aspects of the original viewing experience where visitors can view the films Isakaba Boys, Secret Adventure, The Snake Girl, and Oganigwe.
While this advertising cum art form was ephemeral, the themes it represents are not. The artists often created images based only on film titles and limited, if any, knowledge of the content of the films. The images are thick with local meaning and often resonate with Ghanaian Pentecostal religion, a growth industry in the 1980s as Ghanaians experienced political and economic crisis. Appealing to this audience, artistic interpretations of filmic themes emphasized the lurid and turned on struggles between good and evil; tradition and modernity; magic and Christianity; life and death; sickness and health; and the corresponding human behaviors on which they are believed to attend. Jeremy Sweet, Associate Director at the Grunwald, notes “I am thrilled about this unique exhibit because of the honesty and originality of the work. The artists of the African movie shack phenomenon have created an odd and beautiful depiction and translation of cinema art and culture which cannot be missed!”
A gallery talk by Glen Joffe, the owner of Primitive, Chicago, the lender of the film posters, will be held on Friday, August 24 at 5pm. As celebrated authorities in authentic ethnographic art, Glen Joffe and PRIMITIVE have received substantial critical acclaim and numerous awards.
This exhibit is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences Themester, the College Arts and Humanities Institute, the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Department of History, the African Studies Program, and Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University.