Ghanaian Film Posters on Display at Grunwald Gallery of Art

The Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University will open “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture” on August 24th.  The exhibit will feature the large hand painted posters ubiquitous in Ghana in the 1980s and used for advertising public screenings of films played on VCRs.  The exhibit will focus not only on the posters, but recreating elements of the screening culture that existed before film viewership shifted to home viewing in the 1990s.  Patrons will be able to view films made by various Ghanaian directors as well.


From Grunwald Gallery’s press release:

While this advertising cum art for was ephemeral, the themes it represents are not.  The artists often created images based only on film titles and limited, if any, knowledge of the content of the films.  The images are thick with local meaning and often resonate with Ghanaian Pentecostal religion, a growth industry in the 1980s as Ghanaians experienced political and economic crisis.  Appealing to this audience, artistic interpretations of filmic themes emphasized the lurid and turned on struggles between good and evil; tradition and modernity; magic and Christianity; life and death; sickness and health; and the corresponding human behaviors on which they are believed to attend.

The exhibition gets underway with a gallery talk by Glen Joffe of Primitive, Chicago at 5pm on opening day, and will coincide with two events at the IU Cinema: Black is Black: Mama Mia on September 9th and Oganigwe on September 15th.  The Exhibition is co-sponsored by the BFC/A.


Here is a fairly extensive  collection of more Ghanaian movie posters online, and here is Ghanavision, a coffee table book of posters (for those of you around IU, the book is available at the Friends of Art Bookshop as well).

As an aside for the soccer-inclined: when ESPN chartered  AM I Collective in South Africa to make original team posters for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the collective chose to make the posters in the style Ghanaian hand painted movie advertisements in the 1980s.  Below, fittingly, is the poster for the Ghanaian team, though you can see all the teams here.

About BFC/A

The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions. View all posts by BFC/A

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