Monday, February 05, 2024

'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey

London The Unfinished City

If you wander along the Olympian Way, which is part of the Thames Path around the Greenwich Peninsula, you will see numerous pieces of Public Art. There is 'The Tide', 'Here', 'A Slice of Reality' and more.

One of the most intriguing ones, that I have found, is 'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey.

This piece of art is unusual in that it looks like a simple stack of crates, until you get closer to it and you start to hear different sounds. Not music, necessarily, but more chanting and the sounds of people speaking different languages. You can also make out the sounds of water, too.

Situated where it is you can relax by the River Thames and listen to the continuous sounds, gently emanating from the totem.

Brief History

This totemic sculpture stands over 5 metres tall with the cubes made of reclaimed wood, some of which comes from Ghanaian fishing boats.

The embedded sound installation, which broadcasts north, east, south and west, plays recordings from Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Castle and James Fort. These three locations were former slave forts on what was the former Gold Coast. Some of the buildings at these sites are now designated as world heritage sites.

A short recording of some of the sounds.

The fourth sound recording is from Tema, Ghana, which is on the Meridian line.

The idea of this piece of public art is to encourage the listener to consider how life at the forts has changed over the years, with the water now being used by fishermen, rather than slave traders.

The dimensions of the piece are 550 x 140 x 140 cm (216 x 55 x 55 inches).