The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana, this fall as part of its Of Africa project. The exhibition features flags, uniforms and musical instruments relating to the visual and performance art of the Fante militias of the West African country of Ghana. Asafo Flags will be on display from September 3, 2016 to February 27, 2017, in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume.
About Asafo Flags
Flags, called frankaa, are the prized possession of Asafo companies and are one of the ways these groups express their history and importance. Commissioned to commemorate the installation of new leaders, recall historical events, or assert a company’s superiority, the flags feature graphic imagery and appliqued designs of colourful figures, wild animals, traps, palm wine, and serpent-headed monsters. The images reference Akan proverbial knowledge, European heraldic images, and other iconographic sources interpreted by Fante textile artists. Today, the flags are displayed during funerals and ceremonies and celebrated in festivals throughout Ghana.
About the Exhibition
Asafo Flags features 106 objects, including 35 original flags from the Federico Carmignani Asafo Collection, recently acquired by the ROM through the generosity of the Louise Hawley Stone Trust. Also included are regalia, musical instruments, ceremonial head gear, and commemorative t-shirts along with historical and contemporary photographs and videos of performances and festivals, which are central to the display of Asafo pride. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Silvia Forni, ROM Curator of African Arts and Culture, and Doran H. Ross, former director of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.
“Asafo Flags are beautiful and captivating artworks that originate from a complex history of contact, trade, resilience, and creativity. The exhibition offers ROM visitors the opportunity to experience the vibrant tradition of Fante flag culture that remains an important expression of local pride, dignity, and aesthetic,” said Dr. Forni.
ROM Asafo Flags Programming
ROMSpeaks presents The Asafo Flags of Ghana: Expressive Cultures in the Idiom of Hybridity, on September 20, 2016. The lecture features Dr. Ato Quayson, Professor and Director, Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto, who will trace the history of Asafo groups and explore Asafo flags in relation to Ghanaian and African expressive cultures today. The lecture is free with RSVP. For details, visit the ROM’s programs page here.
The exhibition is complemented by a ROM Press publication, Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana. The book, co-authored by Dr. Forni and Doran H. Ross, will be available in February, 2017 at the ROM Boutique.
Asafo Flags is part of the ROM’s Of Africa Project which includes contributions by curators, artists, authors, educators, and academics from across Africa and the African Diaspora. Of Africa introduces ROM visitors to historical and contemporary African cultural and artistic expressions.
Asafo Flags is included with ROM General Admission. Visit rom.on.ca/asafoflags for details.
Wendy Vincent, Bilingual Publicist
About the ROM
Opened in 1914, the ROM is Canada’s largest museum of natural history and world cultures and has six million objects in its collections and galleries showcasing art, world cultures and natural history. The ROM is the largest field research institution in the country, and a world leader in research areas from biodiversity, palaeontology, and earth sciences to archaeology, ethnology and visual culture – originating new information towards a global understanding of historical and modern change in culture and environment. For tickets, memberships and 24-hour information in English and French, visit www.rom.on.ca or call 416.586.8000.