In this edition of One Great Thing, Glen Joffe presents Ghanaian Movie Posters. Although at first glance the subject appears obscure, the posters are extraordinarily engaging.
Painted in oil paint on opened-up flour sacks, the only canvas available to the artists who created them, they advertise "B" and "C" Hollywood horror and action movies, Bollywood movies, Kung Fu movies from the Hong Kong film industry, and oftentimes bizarre movies (by American standards) from Nigeria and Ghana. Frankly, we find the posters more interesting than the films they advertise.
During the late 1980s a cottage industry developed in Ghana, West Africa, composed of young entrepreneurs who possessed three pieces of property -- a TV, a videocassette recorder (VCR), and a portable, gas-powered generator. Armed with these tools, desire and ambition, they set up ramshackle theaters known as "video clubs," showing movies on the VCR and charging admission. Sometimes, they would even take the show on the road and move from village to village. Yet, stationary or mobile, the common denominator was delighted and noisy audiences, who sat scattered on benches, chairs and the ground itself.
In order to attract customers and sell tickets, club operators commissioned posters, which were painted on opened-up flour sacks. Yet, it is the imagery, not the canvas, which always succeeds in drawing the viewer into an imaginary, surreal world. As art and advertising, they are wildly successful, and it is the combination of the two which makes these posters so unforgettable.
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