The Black Star Line

Ayitey Hammond

Keywords: Journey, Heroes, Curiosity

Internship: Anna Geene,

Still from short film: The Black Star Line 2001

Ayitey Hammond/ West African/

I am a visual artist. I use photography and computer-generated imagery in my practice.

I investigate the past with questions concerning the global collective memory of West Africa, the reality of the black skin and the repercussions of having it in contemporary times.

If there is one question that summarizes my work, it will be: Can global consciousness of Blackness be decolonized?

By blending aspects of my West African heritage with popular culture, I invite viewers into utopian spaces created as a form of resolutionary escapism, futurism and idealism.

Graduation Project

A questioning of the human ability to act on curiosity

My dear guest,

Not long ago I was prompted to embark on a curious journey into an alternative space, an area which lies beyond the 3d view port.

This was a space I knew nothing about but armed with a childlike curiosity and fueled by my desire to escape colonial entanglements which affect me and my kind in the real world, I set off on a resolutionary adventure. The 3D view port acted as a point of view to gaze into the inner workings of the hidden areas of my being, and I am very pleased to share with you the resulting film.

Before I write any further, I would like to ask you to forgive me for not being explicit and not explaining the meanings behind some of the things you are about to see in the film. This is deliberate on my part because I question human curiosity and how we go about seeking answers in order to grasp something we do not fully understand, especially since I am showing you this film in an art context, do exhibitions inform the public and do art inspire knowledge seeking? Can the artist raise social awareness?

Nonetheless, it is my pleasure to have you experience the film; and if you do indeed decide to act on your curiosity, I'd be happy to chat with you.



A research into the absence of west African heroic realism & a blueprint for visual artist to use heroic realism to provoke a spirit of solidarity.

The thesis is a research into the lack of solidarity amongst West African youth and how the visual artist can cause solidarity with their craft.

By investigating the aesthetics of the heroic realism, socialist realism art movement that emerged in Stalin’s Soviet and comparing it with contemporary use of art in postcolonial Ghana, I attempted to create a document that could serve as a blueprint for West African visual artists to use to cause unification of West Africans and Black people in the diaspora.

In my thesis I researched a timeline of events as they have been documented by historians about West Africa and the people who lived there. I start with an insight into historical happenings, including of course (neo-)colonialism, that have led to the challenges that Black people and West Africans face today.

The thesis also highlights the works of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who attempted to cause a unification of the African people and the continent. I then discuss elements of what came to be known as socialist realist art and discuss how Nkrumah used some elements of socialist/heroic realism to position himself and to enlighten his people. I then look at how contemporary African artists use heroic realism in their practice today and conclude they do not use heroic realism enough. I also discuss my work and why heroic realism is relevant for my work. I then conclude with a guide on how to apply the aesthetics and methods of heroic realism for visual artists to provoke a spirit of solidarity and reunite peoples and why it is important for all people of African origin to focus on elevating themselves as a collective.