Godfried Donkor: The Currency of Ntoma

Godfried Donkor is a Ghanaian visual artist living and working in London. His artistic practice straddles continents and cultures as well as sociological, and historical spheres. The film project, The currency of Ntoma (2012) is a brilliant example of his transcultural artistic approach.

The currency of Ntoma presents Donkor’s own mother as a collector of valuable objects – Dutch wax prints. The project is made up of two films (one audio+visual, one visual) streamed simultaneously on opposing walls in a gallery space. For the purpose of the Cultural Threads symposium, the two films were streamed side by side.

The Currency of Ntoma

The Currency of Ntoma, Donkor, G (2012). Two-channel video projection. From Hollandaise, at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

For Donkor currency should not be considered purely financial. Currency simply means flow, whether that is the flow of knowledge, money, or goods. Flow references process and in any process there is a start and end position. By acknowledging Dutch wax textiles as the Currency of Ntoma, Donkor references the flow of goods, knowledge and wealth between the Netherlands and West Africa.

The Currency of Ntoma - filmstill

The Currency of Ntoma, Donkor, G (2012). Two-channel video projection. From Hollandaise, at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

The Dutch wax fabrics collected by Donkor’s mother and so many women in Ghana have truly transcultural identities. They are/were often designed in the Netherlands (based on traditional African designs) and exported to West Africa. Additionally, The Currency of Ntoma emphasises the importance of naming textiles for Ghanaian women. They name each design individually, so it remains rooted in their culture.

Godfried Donkor’s film, The Currency of Ntoma, reminds us all of the international value of textiles. 

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