Ibrahim Mahama: TRANSFER(S)

Kunsthalle, Osnabrück, Germany
08 Jul 2023 - 01 Oct 2023

Ibrahim Mahama, TRANSFER(S), 2023. Courtesy of Kunsthalle Osnabrück.

Ibrahim Mahama, TRANSFER(S), 2023. Courtesy of Kunsthalle Osnabrück.

The Peace of Westphalia was concluded 375 years ago. The Peace of Westphalia ended the 30-year war with two peace treaties. To mark this anniversary, the Kunsthalle Osnabrück is doing a research and exhibition project. In cooperation with the internationally renowned artist Ibrahim Mahama. Ibrahim Mahama comes from Ghana. Among other things, the project also tells the story of the linen trade in Osnabrück.

From July 8 to October 1, Ibrahim Mahama draped the former Galeria Kaufhof building in Osnabrück’s city centre with fabrics. The cover consists of different materials: strip weave fabric , garments collected in Ghana called batakaris, and jute sacks. TRANSFER(S) explores the many trade routes between Central Europe and West Africa, past and present. Osnabrück had long been one of the most important regions in Westphalia where fabrics were produced. Among other things, Osnabrück was well-known for the production of linen fabric. This fabric became known as true born Osnabrughs. The fabric had been produced in Osnabrück for a very long time. Traces of it date back to the fourteenth century. This linen was used, among other things, to make clothes for forced labourers on the plantations of the West Indies. [A plantation is a large farm with many fields. Things like rice, tobacco or tea are grown on plantations]. The linen fabric was also used as a means of exchange for prisoners from the coastal areas of Africa.

The former Galeria Kaufhof building also has a diverse history. There are plans to use the building differently in the future. The Hotel Germania, which was destroyed in the Second World War, used to stand on the site. It is known from Erich Maria Remarque’s novel The Black Obelisk. In 1955, the Merkur department store opened on this site. The building has thus been part of the city’s history, and war and post-war experiences are thus linked to global trade and power relations through Mahama’s art. The building is currently being converted by the Hamburg-based project developer Home United. From 2024 on, the cross-community space Osnabrücker Ding [The Osnabrück Thing] will open there. [A cross-community space is a place for everyone. A place for meetings and exchange, for work and new ideas]. The departments of Art/Art Education and Textile Design of the University of Osnabrück will also be located there.

It is not possible to enter the building during the exhibition. But the mediation team invites you to free guided tours regularly on Thursdays from 18:00 and Saturdays from 14:00 until the end of the exhibition period. The meeting place for the Ice Cream Café Talks is the Eiscafé Dolomiti (Neumarkt 6, 49074 Osnabrück). Selected tours take place with experts.