Coinciding with Paa Joe’s 70th birthday (and marking his 40th year in the coffin trade), the exhibition considers traditional funerary customs in contemporary Ghana.
Exploring specific funeral practices of the country’s Ga and Fante communities – coastal societies to which the artists belong - the exhibition focuses on the fictional passing of a young girl. Presenting death as a journey, mediated through water, the works consider the trisection of the worlds of the unborn, the living, and the dead.
Paa Joe, aided by his son and apprentice Jacob Tetteh Ashong, will present six of his fantasy coffins, each inspired by the seascape. The works will be activated by Sutherland’s practice, bringing together twelve performers in traditional funeral costumes to re-enact elements of Ga and Fante funerals, alongside video projections featuring conversations between the performers, Sutherland and Paa Joe. Intertwining Sutherland’s contemporary practices with the idiosyncratic woodworking discipline of Paa Joe, the exhibition builds on current movements within Ghanaian contemporary art which champion interdisciplinary and multigenerational collaboration, whilst challenging traditional and structural definitions of fine art. The work also explores the implication of objects in rituals of memory, commemoration, identity, and self-realisation.