In transit

The oil boom of the 1970s in Nigeria brought enormous economic prosperity that attracted many West African migrants in search of a better life. By the 1980s the boom slowed down, weakening the Nigerian economy. Due to the weakening economy, and in response to the “religious disturbances”, in early 1983 an executive order mandated all immigrants without proper immigration documents to leave the country. Over 2 million people were forced to leave, including over 1 million Ghanaians. The “Ghana Must Go” bag got its moniker during this event as many migrants used it to move their belongings.
In his performative interventions Lucky Lartey creates imaginary vehicles intended to aid or extend human movement. Using PVC tape, digitally printed cut-outs, and the iconic “Ghana Must Go” synthetic bags the artist creates simple, but powerful imagery charged with manifold narratives.
In transit formalises three large-scale scenes in which a man is sailing on a boat (Slowly it will be good), riding a bicycle (Man on wheel) and pushing a car (Almost there). The dominant child-like quality of the tape-drawings, along with the low fidelity of the prints, sets not only the mood but the operational context of these works. The child-like aesthetic approach can be associated with the absence of detail – a detail being that which carries the information and enables the “reading” of it. Within the given context, the absence of detail here thus can signify an act of resistance. A resistance against the Western notion of “reading” the work and taxonomic disempowerment of it.
The circular and anti-clockwise movement evoked by each work, reinforces the resistance to its readability. Instead, Lartey’s performative interventions seek to position us within an imaginary space where universal and personal can be examined not in their separateness, but in our ability to experience them.
In transit is a space where imaginary exchanges take place. The origin is rendered into a memory by the departure, whilst the arrival emerges as continuously re-imagined real. This suspended state, which pivots between chance and hope, is a state of Mallarmé’s dice wherein a throw can “never abolish the chance”.