Beatrice Trussardi, President of Fondazione Trussardi, brings the art of Ibrahim Mahama to Milan. The Ghanaian artist was asked to realize an urban-scale installation during the Art Week. It will entirely involve a symbolic site of the city: the crossroads of Porta Venezia. This location is one of six main gateways of the city walls known as Milan’s Oriental Gateway: it contributed significantly to marking the border between the urban territory and the countryside. Furthermore, it is a place which defined the topography of Milan and the relationship between the city and the outside world.
“A Friend” was inspired by the concept of “threshold” as a place of passage defining the inside and the outside, the self and the other, the friend and the enemy.
This is an imposing installation which fits in perfectly with the path taken by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, under Beatrice Trussardi’s presidency and Massimiliano Gioni’s art direction. “A Friend” is aimed at bringing the contemporary art to the heart of Milan, rediscovering and enhancing forgotten or unusual places. Ibrahim Mahama will wrap the neoclassical tollgates of Porta Venezia with jute sacks, and that is how he will give the two buildings a new identity and a second skin.
Those who live in Milan will have the chance to rediscover the essence of the city on the basis of its historical origin, symbolic and economic function. It is no longer just about simple monuments, but about meeting and commercial exchange places.
The artwork represents the union of past and present, which like many “civil demonstrations” realized by Mahama in the capitals of contemporary art, is intended to reflect on the complexity of the world we live in and its global tensions. Ibrahim Mahama explores some of the most important contemporary issues through the research and the material processing: migration, globalization, and the circulation of goods and peoples across borders and between nations.
His large-scale installation makes use of materials gathered from urban environments such as architectural fragments, wood, fabrics and jute sacks, sewn together and draped over major architectural structures.
The sacks are made in Asia and imported into Africa for the international transport of foodstuffs. In addition, these refer to the markets of Ghana which is where the artist comes from. Mahama’s jute sacks symbolize the gauzes that plug the wounds of history as an emblem of conflicts and dramas which have been consumed in the shadow of the global economy for centuries. Everyone is steeped in workforce behind the international circulation of goods: “It tells about the hands that lifted it, like the products it contained, travelling between ports, warehouses, markets and cities. People’s conditions remain imprisoned there. And the same happens to the places it passes through”.
The installation “A Friend”, which is open from 12 to 14 April 2019, is realized in collaboration with miart, modern and contemporary art fair of Milan. From 2013 onwards, the institution led by Beatrice Trussardi has presented a series of special projects, temporary exhibitions, performances and pop-up interventions during the Week Art, bringing international artists to Milan. Among them are Jeremy Deller, Sarah Lucas, Getilin, Darren Bader ,and Stan VanDerBeek.