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Biography of Godfried DONKOR

Ghana > Arts : Godfried DONKOR

Godfried DONKOR
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Biography :

Godfried Donkor is a Ghanaian artist.

Godfried Donkor, who was born in Ghana in 1964 and lives in England, takes a New York solo bow with this show of collages. His subject is the commodification of the black body in Western culture, seen first in the slave trade, then in sports, fashion and sex. To this end, Mr. Donkor used 19th-century prints and 20th-century photographs, placing images of Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson against the financial pages of newspapers, and figures of scantily dressed black women, often lifted from fashion advertisements or pornographic magazines, against prints of slave ships.

The ideas Mr. Donkor is working are potent ones, and he is by no means alone in addressing them. In the last decade, British artists like Keith Piper and Issac Julien have explored similar terrain, as have, more recently, younger figures like Paul Pfeiffer in the United States. Set beside Mr. Pfeiffer's formally innovative, obliquely stated political work, however, Mr. Donkor's collages can seem flatfootedly didactic.

In fact, their challenges lie in what may or may not be their intended contradictions. When, for example, he turns the fighter Mike Tyson into a secular martyr-saint, he raises questions about the relativity of victimization, and the presumption of innocence that often accompanies it. Dealing with the impurity of ideals, rather than assigning clear-cut good-versus-evil distinctions, is the direction much art is headed in now. Mr. Donkor's gains real interest to the extent that it follows that path.

Last update : 07/14/2007

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