Max Cegielski and Janek Simon
One Man Does Not Rule a Nation, 2023, installation (wooden stand, archival material: video, magazines, books, everyday objects, photographs)
The starting point for the work is a monument to the first president of the Republic of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, designed by the Polish sculptor Alina Ślesińska and unveiled in 1965 in Winneba, a Ghanaian coastal town. It was demolished soon after, in 1966, when a CIA-inspired coup ousted Nkrumah from power. The project includes a reconstruction of the monument in a Ljubljana exhibition space with workshops in Ghana to collectively discuss the meaning of this gesture as a metaphor for working with shared Eastern European and African histories of the 1960s and 1970s now. The monument was originally intended to be made of Italian marble, which also opens the discussion on the materiality of contemporary reconstruction as a tool for using history to create new progressive narratives in the present. The multiple contexts behind the erection of the monument – Polish architects and economists working in Ghana, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah and the elusive presence of Ślesińska herself – are also considered through archival research and interviews with living witnesses of that time.
Max Cegielski B. 1975, Warsaw, Poland. Lives and works in Warsaw, Poland.
Janek Simon B. 1977, Warsaw, Poland. Lives and works in Warsaw, Poland.