Manchester has traded goods, most importantly cloth, with Africa for at least the last two hundred years. The Whitworth Gallery’s new exhibition entitled ‘We Face Forward’ asks its visitors, what place do these kind of traditions have in modern society? Comprising of 32 artists from 9 African countries, this show includes a selection of both new commissions and existing West African art that is being shown for the first time in the UK, as well as many pieces from the Whitworth’s own collection. ‘We Face Forward’ is running throughout the summer and is part of a city-wide celebration of Manchester’s relationship with West Africa, with events and exhibitions taking place at various venues. What many of the pieces on show consider is, are textile-based African artworks indicative of continuing sustainability, or a dying practise?
Nii Obodai’s stunning black and white photographs are indicative of the artist’s personal search for what he feels the future holds for him. He asks the viewers to consider their own future, and how much we really assert our independence...should we question the identity which we have let society construct? A lot of the work on show for this exhibition questions cultural conventions and how our views and practises can be corrupted by power. Obodai’s photographs explore a West African identity, and demonstrate the difficulty in understanding a culture which is so distant from our own. He believes the beauty of one’s surroundings can often bring people back from crisis or despair, and remains hopeful for a future of freedom and equality, which is symbolised by the light shining through his photographs.
First published on http://www.artface.co.uk/