Building Burning Questions

ACI Artist Leader Basil Kincaid

International Residency: Accra, Ghana

National Residency: St.Louis, USA

Examining Self - Building Burning Questions

For the past couple months I have been working towards a vision I have for large scale public installation -- works made from the discarded scratch cards used to purchase cell phone or wifi data credit. My team and I have been making modular two dimensional works that stand alone as individual works of art, as well as working together seamlessly for when we stage public instillation work.

This month a social interest news station caught wind of our work and sent a film crew to do a documentary on the project, highlighting the body of work, the artistic processes that go into making the work and the community impact. I am very excited to see how this comes out and will definitely share the link in the near future. 

I also spent time this month preparing for the mid-year review. I am excited to have Marian Brown, the executive director of ACI to visit and see how the work and processes are unfolding. I also look forward to her insight and any advice that she may be able to provide that will add depth to the process or concepts behind the work.  

I was drawn to the scratch cards for their bright color, they readily pop out to the eye when you’re walking around and you see them on the street, but more so for the fact that they are used everyday. I began to think about how important of a role the internet plays in our contemporary daily lives. The material itself raises a lot of questions and the more I looked at them and interacted with the materials the more questions came up in my mind.

Conceptually, I am interested in exploring how in internet effects our sense of and performance of personal and cultural identities.  How is the internet and social media changing the way we view and present ourselves to others? How is technological “advancement” effecting the environment? And how is the internet and social media connecting and disconnecting us from one another. This is all very captivating to me because in the United States we rarely see the physical waste generated by our access to the internet or that of technological advancement. Here in Ghana there is the largest electronic waste dump on the planet and the environmental impact of technology comes into clearer view. In the 4 acre former suburb of Accra, Agbogbloshie nearly a million tons of electronic waste is processed each year by low income Ghanians.

Countries all around the world are dumping their waste here legally and illegally. I would like to do more research into the environmental impact of this waste site and others like it but I feel like our dependence on electronics, constant access to the internet, and this global push for greater technology is impacting the environment in negative ways. At present, in Ghana, we are experiencing the greatest energy crisis in recorded Ghanaian History. The power goes out almost every day in 12 to 24 hour increments. There are a myriad of factors that play into the energy crisis from lack of rainfall, to governmental corruption and poor planning but I see an interesting intersection between technology and climate change that I feel these materials raise interesting questions around.

My primary area of inquiry regarding the use of these materials and really this chapter of reclamation as a whole has to do with questions surrounding Identity, the nature of Identity and how personal and cultural identities are constructed and then performed.  I am wrestling with a number of questions surrounding my own identity, some of which were addressed in my poem “Displacement”, shared in my last blog post.

As the residency continues to unfold I will share more of my questions and my findings, my explorations and my musings.  For now, I think it is interesting to ask yourself a few questions if only to be more aware of your own behavior.