b. 1987, Ghana
SOYA YOOYA, 2019
Scrap metal tarpaulin and metal tags on charcoal jute sacks
216 x 206 x 12 cm
SOYA YOOYA, meaning "dry soya beans" in Twi, features an array of meticulously arranged jute sacks, a material commonly used to store and transport produce in the bustling markets of Ghana. Ibrahim Mahama often works with this material to shed light on the intricate interplay between agricultural practices and economic dynamics.
In Ghana, local farmers are being encouraged to cultivate soybeans due to their high yield and market value. However, the government's preference to export these crops for the international market poses a significant challenge to enhancing the nation's food security. This issue is compounded by factors such as climate change, inadequate funding for farming infrastructure, and disparate soil fertility.
Against this backdrop, SOYA YOOYA becomes a poignant commentary on the complexities surrounding Ghana's agricultural landscape. Employing jute sacks that symbolise not only the goods they contain but also the enduring struggle of the local populace, Ibrahim Mahama pays homage to the toil and sacrifice of his people, highlighting the paradox where their labour becomes a crucial commodity for international markets at the expense of their own sustenance.
Photo: White Cube George Darrell
Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987, Ghana)
Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanaian artist, whose practice revolves around themes of commodity, global exchange, colonisation, and privilege. He often works with the community to produce and assemble large-scale installations made out of found materials that contain references to Ghana, creating accessible art that people can witness and participate in without the need for qualifications or to step into an art institution. Through these works, Mahama honours the unseen labour of the primarily black and brown people, sparking conversations about how power systems from long ago still influence the perspectives and stories that are told today. Mahama graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a MFA in Painting and Sculpture and has had solo and group exhibitions including at documenta 14 in Athens (2015) and White Cube London (2021). He was the youngest artist to be featured in the first Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale and is currently serving as the Artistic Director of Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts in Slovenia.