ARTension: Straight forward with
...Doug Fishbone!

Doug Fishbone, born 1969, is an video and performance artist living and working in London. He earned a Masters degree in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College. Since 1998 he has realised solo projects and exhibitions in Ecuador, New York City, London, and Copenhagen among others, as well as numerous group exhibitions. By means of satire and irony he contrasts different contexts and puts the absurdity of the mass media, consumer society, and globalisation up for discussion.

Within the scope of the open and critical discussion series ARTension, Doug Fishbone and SAVVY Contemporary will screen the film Elmina, shot in Ghana in 2010. Doug Fishbone is the initiator and coproducer of this film and takes the lead role of Ato Blankson, a Ghanaian farmer – though being white and without the film ever addressing the issue, while otherwise conforming to the characteristics of Ghanaian or rather West African film in every respect.

Elmina brings together two milieus which usually form a sharp contrast: on the one hand the world of popular Ghanaian film with the main emphasis on melodramatic and gripping entertainment, where a sociocritical momentum can be conveyed in passing, on the other hand the intellectualised art world of Europe and North America or “the West”. Accordingly, the film is presented to its audience by applying a two-fold strategy: in Europe as an art product, exhibited at Tate Britain and shown at renowned film festivals, in Ghana as an entertainment film, sold at a low price on street markets.

In Ghana, the spectators find themselves confronted with the “inappropriate” ethnicity of the protagonist, who nonetheless acts quite naturally in the midst of the familiar potpourri of film narrative motifs such as corruption, murder, intrigues, and globalisation. The questions thereby posed substantially lead beyond pure entertainment spectacle.

In Europe, a context not well-known to mainstream art consumers is put across through a “normally” readable main character. The foreign setting with its exuberant visuality and a plot that, from a “Western” perspective, appears heavily overloaded surround this character seamlessly. On the basis of its political implications alone, this contextual displacement demands an open-minded engagement correspondent to the currently predominant discourses on the reception of internationally oriented art. Do we in fact need a white actor playing a black protagonist to consider an African film worth watching, or even discussing?

It is exactly these discourses that link Elmina to the fundamental objective of the project space SAVVY Contemporary, namely fostering the exchange of ideas and the interaction between ”Western art” (circles) and “Non-Western art” (circles) – especially, as our core audience includes both milieus addressed by Elmina.


Artension is an open platform for a critical discourse on and between artistic, scientific and other socially relevant positions. We invite guests to present their projects and discuss their subjects of interest in a public debate. We create a space for direct and intense engagement with concrete ideas, as well as a possibility for a first-hand experience, which can be meaningful for the audience.