Serge Attukwei Clottey’s work which will be shown at Arnhem. Image: courtesy of the artist.
Image: courtesy of the artist.
Most recently, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) assisted Ghanian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey in the production of an artwork which will be featured in the exhibition Stormy Weather on climate change and social justice at the Museum Arnhem, in the Netherlands. The exhibition looks at climate change in a broad, socio-economic and political context, believing pollution and global warming and their consequences for land, water, air and organisms are related to world’s inequality. For the exhibition a group of international artists from different continents will be asked to show (existing) works that reflect on the climate issue from their own background and personal perspectives. Through DBF’s efforts, Clottey’s work will afterwards be part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation was created out of the importance of encouraging artists from South Asia and beyond . Established in 2018 , the foundation supports artists and art practitioners who can, with their particular views of our world, generate new ways of shaping it. Encouraging these artists from all across the global south, the DBF support relevant exhibitions, publications and residencies, not to mention the donation of art works to renown institutions. Having offices in Berlin and Dhaka, DBF offers a conduit to connect art and artists between Asia, Europe and Africa.
The exhibition at Arnhem can be seen from the 27th July until October 6th. It will take place in the St. Walburgis Church in the center of Arnhem, the space that is used by the museum during the renovation of its building. The Museum Arnhem argues that there is a specific urgency to make this exhibition in the city of Arnhem. Arnhem is a rapidly growing town in the east of the Netherlands, close to the German border, in the middle of a large natural environment of woods and heathland. How to protect nature and realise sustainable urbanisation is the biggest challenge for this city.

Serge Attukwei Clottey’s work has won the attention of the Western World in the last years.
The Ghanian artist has been featured in several articles on magazines and newspapers such as the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar and several art specific publications. Clottey can be called a multimedia artist, since he works with paintings and drawings, but also does installations and performances. The artist’s body of work is in many ways auto- referential. He explores his own personal narratives, connected to where he was born and is based as an artist: the city of Accra. But he also explores personal narratives in general and binds them with family and collective histories, often relating to trade and migration.
Clottey is the creator of AFROGALLONISM, an artistic concept that comments on consumption within modern Africa through the utilisation of yellow gallon containers. These gallons and jerrycans, imported to Ghana from Europe and Asia carrying cooking oil, are used to store water pumped from the soil in regions of short water supply.

Unfortunately this situation contributes to plastic waste and fails to present a sustainable way to store and dispose of these recipients. Through cutting, drilling, stitching and melting plastic fragments from these gallons, Clottey then creates tapestries out of plastic pieces with the help of a community studio.
These sculptural installations inquire about the economical, social and environmental situation having to be faced yet by many people in this planet.

From these residues of unjustifiably hard lives comes an art that talks to the world. The result is always aesthetically beautiful and can be quite mind-blowing because of its magnificent size: in some aerial shots the streets of Accra turn yellowish from being entirely covered by jerrycans’ plastic fragments. In other versions of the same methodology Clottey creates tapestry-like wall-hanging artworks, exhibited in galleries across Europe and the USA. Clottey’s most recent accomplishments include having had his installation “Kusum Gboo Ga” housed at the Facebook Headquarters in Los Angeles, and being selected for this year’s Karachi Biennale, in Pakistan, that is also addressing environmental issues in this edition.
The Arnhem exhibition, as well as Serge Attukwei Clottey’s work, focuses on a very present and urgent matter of our time, that connects us in this world disregarding boarders and ethnicities. The exhibition’s broader approach to the subject, focusing not only on geographical factors but also on political and social ones, matches DBF’s mission, so that the foundation felt the necessity of collaborating with this project. Furthermore, Clottey’s work addresses social issues that are personally interesting for the foundation’s founder, Mr. Durjoy Rahman, since both countries, Ghana and Bangladesh, present similar challenges.

Mr. Rahman remembers that jerrycans and gallons helped to forge the landscape and the life style of his city and generation. Though Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is a 400 years old city with rich heritage, water supply was not common to every household, forcing citizen to pump water from the underground and store it in these plastic recipients. Later, when the supply situation in the city improved it didn’t change the situation in densely populated areas with low income, so that until nowadays jerrycans and gallons are used by a considerable fraction of the population in Dhaka and beyond.

This coincidence affects not only the home land of Mr. Rahman, but several other countries in South Asia. Therefore, when Mr. Rahman saw the works of Serge Attukwei Clottey, through which the artist manages to reduce residues by turning them into art, they instantly caught their attention.

Exhibition: St. Walburgis Church, Sint Walburgisplein 1,
6811 BZ Arnhem, The Netherlands
27th July – 6th October, 2019