Ibrahim Mahama, Garden of Scars, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 2022 / Photo Mike Bink
Ibrahim Mahama: Garden of Scars
Nov 5, 2022 – Mar 19, 2023
Oude Kerk
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Ibrahim Mahama created a new, space-filling installation especially for Amsterdam’s oldest building. Walk through the centuries-old church building and discover the shared history of ancient places connected by trade networks, migration flows and globalization.

Commissioned by the Oude Kerk, Mahama has been working on a new large-scale site-specific installation for the past two years. Garden of Scars connects the history of the Oude Kerk with an international (historical) context. Scattered through the building are hundreds of sculptures. The sculptures are composed of casts he made from the tombstones in the Oude Kerk and the floors of Fort Elmina (1482) on the coast of Ghana, among others. The fractures, scratches and cracks in the sculptures depict a history of failure, repair, repair.

He links the family histories of the merchants, captains, mayors buried in the Old Church with the traces of the history of the ancient (Dutch) forts along the coast of Ghana where people suffered the (consequences of) colonial trade in Africa. Castles and forts were built from the 15th century on the West African coast by traders from Europe, including the Dutch. Fort Elmina, for instance, initially served the gold trade and later played an important role in the development of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Mahama aims to make this shared history visible. Global networks linked to both places and continuing into the present day are made palpable.

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