A stained plastic patchwork quilt covers two cubes that tower over the desert landscape of the Coachella Valley. With the title “The wishing wellThe bright couple is the work of a Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clotteywho created the three meter long pieces from scraps of kufuor gallons or canisters in response to joint struggles with the insecurity of water that are spreading around the world. A paved walkway resembling a yellow brick street connects the two woven structures that contrast with the surroundings faces constant struggles with access to natural resources.
Clottey’s use of the material comes with greater criticism of the enduring legacy of colonialism and the impact it has on populations around the world, particularly in relation to the climate crisis. Originally, European colonialists brought kufuor gallons to Ghana to transport cooking oil. Today the plastic containers are ubiquitous and are used to transport drinking water. “As repurposed relics of the colonial project, they serve as a constant reminder of the legacy of the empire and global movements for environmental justice,” he says a statement about the work that is part of it Desert X., a biennial that brings site-specific installations to Southern California.
“The Wishing Well” is one facet of Clotey’s larger one Afrogallonism Project which he describes as “an artistic concept to study the relationship between the proliferation of yellow oil gallons in terms of consumption and necessity in the life of the modern African”. The Accra-based artist works in a variety of media, including installation, sculpture, and performance, addressing the broader influence of colonialism in Africa. You can see a larger collection of his pieces on Artsy and Instagram.
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