In Accra, abandoned buildings become open air art galleries

The Limbo Accra project invades with art the skeleton of an uncompleted luxury house in the capital city of Ghana, blurring the borders between public and private space.

Showcasing the power of expression and production of social cultural capital that might be laying underneath the appearance of chaos and social inequality of an exploding urban environment: this is the principle animating the Limbo Accra project, recently curated by Dominique Petit-Frère and Emil Grip involving nine emerging Ghanaian artist in a program of hybrid reactivation of a private abandoned space.
Property bubbles and escalating real estate prices are a defining feature in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra as in many global cities. The city's changing identity and influx of new developments are leaving its urban spaces caught in a state of limbo: anxiously awaiting modern futures while fossilized with the fragments of the past.

As photographer and video maker Anthony Badu reports, the pace of construction fails to mask the shortage of affordable housing: those who can afford to build in Ghana exploit the chaos for significant returns, bringing estimates to range from 1.7 million rooms to 5.4 million self-contained units short of demand. Despite government and UN intervention to boost housing supply, the mismatch between costs of production and affordability is real, and the new homes that do reach completion are unaffordable for average Ghanaians.
Hence the occupation of uncompleted property developments through an experimental variety of media, including sculpture, photography, moving image, and installation. In the words of  curator Dominique Petit-Frère: “It’s a direct challenge to the extractive property market, the system that takes (…) land, manpower, resources, community space. These properties are everywhere just trapping it all as frozen capital and that’s why we called it Limbo. What’s all this negative space doing to people’s minds?”


Exploiting the unfinished condition of a residential building as a chance to create a diversely serene, uncommon shared environment, Limbo Accra clusters in front of different components of urban society rubber tapestry. made of discarded flip-flops from beach clean ups, afro-surrealist works, photographs of shrouded models in motion, a photo-booth-happening powered by a radical design collective, a Trotro (Ghana’s most common mode of transport), with a TV inside playing films on Trotro life; the final performance by Adjoa Armah epitomizes in a monologue the gesture and the reflection structuring Limbo Accra by obsessively questioning the mantra of “home is…”: “our home is a place that has long been in limbo.”

Limbo Accra
Curated by:
Dominique Petit-Frère, Emil Grip
Accra, Ghana
Adjoa Armah, David Alabo, Deryk Bempah, Diego Asamoa, Enam Geli, Free the Youth, Hakeem Adam, Nana Osei Kwadwo, Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, Serge Attukwei Clottey

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