Associate Studio Programme 5 : Larry Archiampong

In January 2020, Larry Achiampong visited us in the studio, just after having taken his driving test. He opened his bag and took out the cardboard cover for his 2013 project More Mogya which he describes as an “ongoing project” begun several years earlier that he has yet to go back to since. Initially it was a self portrait, using audio, based on the knowledge that was readily available to him – and was acquired not by means of learning it professionally, but approaching it almost on the go, by watching other people.
With Larry we talked about exploring origins and nationality, specifically his relationship to Ghana. He alsotalked about an artist’s growth through the years, as a process of learning, knowing, claiming and sharing one’s work – and the importance of peer-to-peer sharing as opposed to college crit-like settings.
He wondered about how much the More Mogya project might even exist as far talking to curators over the years is concerned, whether it would fall into the category of what they can consider as art – whether, in this case, art is something done in a council flat bedroom?
He stressed the importance of a practitioner being able to deal with criticism and disinterest or dislike for what might fall outside a consensus – especially when exposed to people that disregard the history, the link your work could have to other peers, or are only looking for the things they are expecting art to activate for them. He suggested that the ideal would be inviting people to the space to be part of a conversation, one which understood privilege but also activated empathy.
We discussed the politics of making art and the question of who art is for. He suggested that it’s beyond just one person, but has the ability to be that, to be intensely subjective, and having no formula to it. Larry went on to describe his belief in the particularity of time and histories, and that as result he’s hesitant to see his work under Mark Derry’s “Afro-futurism” in terms of those words’ origin. Rather than nationalism he looks for freedom, in the sense that to this day his children are still being taught a canon that is premised on a particular continent’s power.  Larry offered us a discussion that was very open and frank, breaking down any hierarchy and speaking to us as his peers.
Offering guidance as an artist he stressed that he continues to learn and develop skills, which he linked back to his driving test earlier in the day. The discussion came to an end with Larry suggesting that time and ‘progress’ are not about where people are from or where they are going but rather, it’s circular, a cycle of loops and channels that need to be seen in terms of rhythm and flow, that never repeats.
Chi Bagtas

Notes have been disabled.