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Ibrahim Mahama dresses up Porta Venezia for Art Week in Milan



ph Marco De Scalzi

Nicola Trussardi Foundation has commissioned to Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama an installation conceived for Porta Venezia in occasion of the Art Week in Milan. This installation, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, will also cover the duration of the Design Week until the 14 th of April.


Mahama’s work, named A Friend wants to celebrate an important message of community and engagement with the other, by using the symbolic value of Porta Venezia, which was once built upon the same trade and travel hub upon which were built first the roman gates, then the medieval ones and finally, the doors built by the Spanish. The East Gate of Milan had an influence on the urban shape of the city by defining a border that delimited the end of the city and the start of the countryside.



ph Marco De Scalzi


Therefore, this installation wants to enhance the symbolic significance of such a threshold, which is

extremely important today since it is the place where many multi-ethnic communities live.

The structure is composed by jute bags that are sewn together; these evoke Ghana’s markets, the

cornerstones of commercial exchanges, in which these bags, coming from Asia and secondly imported in Africa, contain food and other useful resources.


Some migrants collaborated with Mahama by assembling some of the bags, upon which their names were put alongside those of the bags’ former owners.

Indeed, as the artist declared: “The jute bag tells the story of the hands that carried them, as well as the products they brought with them at ports, at depositories, in some markets and cities. People’s conditions are locked up in there. And the same happens at the places they pass by.”


That is why the reason behind this installation ties a strong bond with the past, in order to tell a present characterized by hard undertones, sometimes desperate ones, and that is exactly why this creation celebrates the importance of hospitality and diversity conceived as a value.




Ibrahim Mahama was born in 1987 in Temale, Ghana. He graduated in Painting and Sculpting at Kuame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. The artist exposed his work at the 56th International Art Exhibition of Biennale di Venezia in 2015 and at Documenta 14 in 2017. He will represent Ghana at Biennale di Venezia in 2019.


by Ludovica Mucci


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