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Vice Blog


We'd like to thank the

Jack Bell Gallery for doing an impromptu exhibition of Ghanaian coffins to tie into the first episode of The Vice Guide to Everything on MTV--who knew our little TV show was so hotly anticipated in the London art world?

Click here to see a gallery of a bunch of weird African coffins we may well have been screwing around in six months ago, along with little explanations for each of the designs' meanings. The only things we're a little bummed they left out is that the "local businessmen" who like to be buried in Mercedes can more accurately be described as "local drug dealers," and that they didn't mention the Teshi businessman who tried to get buried in a an eagle (for chiefs only!) and was yanked out of the coffin during his own funeral procession and torn limb from limb by Gaa traditionalists. Oh, Africa! You so crayzay.

PS: Thanks to Ghanaian mechanic Nicholas Neil for letting us take his wrench coffin for a test ride.

PAA JOE: TAKING IT WITH YOU PRIVATE VIEW Wednesday 24 November 2010, 7 - 9pm EXHIBITION 25 November - 15 January Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to announce a solo selling exhibition of sculpted coffins by the Ghanaian artist Paa Joe. The four works in the show are all iconic symbols of local life. The golden African eagle, fish, Air Ghana jet, and Cocoa pod are testament to the vibrancy of West African culture and the ability and imagination of the local artists. These works blur the line between art and craft. Reflecting the ambition or the trade of the person for whom they were made they are not dead things but are instead a manifestation of and indeed an affirmation of life. The works are wholly African and are a contemporary embodiment of traditional tribal burial rituals and art practice. They link back to pre-colonial West African sculpture but also recall the pomp and extravagance of ancient Egyptian royal tombs and perhaps – in contemporary Western art practice they recall Jeff Koons. They too are kitsch, Paa Joe, like Koons, plays with scale and with a work like the Jet, with material and commercial ostentation. Paa Joe was born in the Akwapim hills north-east of Accra in 1945. The foremost sculpted coffin maker of his generation Paa Joe apprenticed with Kane Kwei – who is credited with beginning the 20th century tradition of figurative coffins. Paa Joe's work is held in museum collections around the world including the British Museum in London. Two of the works from this exhibition pre-sold to museums.