Slave To Champ II by Godfried Donkor. 2009. Collage / giclée print on paper with gold leaf

#047 Slave To Champ II by Godfried Donkor

2009. Collage / giclée print on paper with gold leaf.

The work by Ghanaian artist Godfried Donkor is from a series of collages on paper entitled Slave to Champ / Boxers & Saints. It evidences Atlantic fluidity as its poetic base for the underlying assumptions of the series, which focuses on the colonial system and on the question of slavery as well as its approach and operational concept, which in turn show the artist‘s interest in more fluid materials like newspapers and iconic images of slave ships and Black Boxers.

The displacements become visible in the priority of content over form, in the desire of treating information from the newspaper Financial Times as if it was an ocean, and especially in the image of an ocean of trade as a metaphor for the Black Atlantic, which describes the fluxes and re-fluxes that gave the impulse for this body to resist in the Americas. This violent “punch” of this image, with all its different meanings, creates discomfort. In the image of the boxer with his increased vigilance, we observe a game of tensions between spectator X artist X work. This work made me think of the poem “O Navio Negreiro – Tragédia no Mar” (“The slaveship – tragedy at sea“) by Castro Alves, a black poet born in Brasil during the period of Romanticism, who commited himself to denouncing the maltreatment suffered by Africans on the Atlantic passage. Finally, art inscribes itself as one of the many voices needed to understand the demands of the present, its inequalities − which are being sepulchred and attenuated by the historic rhythms that include / exclude regions in a more or less interactvie dialogue, and regarding the severe social problems of our reality.

Danillo Barata
Federal University of the Recôncavo of Bahia (UFRB)