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African Gaze Exhibition – Brunei Gallery

African Gaze: Hollywood, Bollywood & Nollywood Film Posters from Ghana at The Brunei Gallery is an extraordinary collection of reproduced film posters originally made for Ghanian audiences. In the late 1980s, Ghana and Nigeria saw an emergence in Hollywood-esque (lovingly known as Nollywood) films being shot locally. With that grew a newfound interest in America culture, combined with the new-found glamour of Bollywood.

The late TV & Film producer Mark Shivas is the man behind the collection. Having stumbled upon a poster for ‘The Witches’ in the late 1990s while traveling through Africa, Shivas knew these posters had a far greater value beyond mere marketing tools.

The surge in alternative film posters at this time was born out of necessity than design, with several original American film posters being difficult to obtain and import to Africa. So, with limited supplies but an abundance of resourcefulness, sack-and-canvas posters were commissioned by local entrepreneurs. They would tour their showreel of films to a range of eager communities all over the country. The sturdy, lightweight material made these posters perfect for quick rolling-up and unfurling, and the loose bio of each film gave emerging artists the opportunity to create art unburdened by film company’s copyright rules.

The end result is this fantastic collection of weird, wonderful, and, at times, overly dramatic depictions of Western and Asian films. Iconic Hollywood blockbusters like Bad Boys are reinterpreted and reimagined for Ghanian audiences. Each poster offers insights into the feelings and assumptions of America and Western culture at the time from the African stance.

The exhibition is running until March 23rd. You can find more details on the works, and the man who spent his life collecting them, on the gallery’s website here.