Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop
- 1 History
- 2 The studio since 2005
- 3 Coffins created by Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop - selected list
- 4 Presence of the studio on the international cultural stage since 2005: see Eric Adjetey Anang
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 Films
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Seth Kane Kwei (1922–1992) was a Ga carpenter joiner established in Teshie, in the suburbs of Accra in Ghana. He is considered by some people as the inventor in the early 1950s of design coffins or fantasy coffins, called Abebuu adekai ("boxes with proverbs") by the Ga people, the dominant ethnic group of the region of Accra. But recently Regula Tschumi published a different story of the origin of the coffins. She demonstrates in an article in African Arts how these coffins were and still are connected with the figurative palanquins and that both art forms have been used already a long time before 1950 
The use of figurative coffins for Ga burial rites became widespread around 1960. Design coffins are acknowledged as symbolic of contemporary creation in Africa.
At the death of Kane Kwei, his son Sowah took over the workshop, then Cedi - Kane Kwei's younger child - after the death of Sowah in 1999. Since 2005, Eric Adjetey Anang (born 1985, the son of Cedi) has been attempting to revitalize the creativity of the studio by the introduction of new models, the creation of furniture realized in the same spirit and using the same techniques as for the coffins.
About ten carpenters' workshops established in Teshie and in the region of Accra produce similar coffins. Some of their masters are like Paa Joe and Tei in Dorwanya former apprentices of Seth Kane Kwei. Others were trained by Kane Kwei's successors, mainly by Paa Joe. Among them are Daniel Mensah called Hello in Teshie, Tetteh in Amasaman and Tetteh Red in Ningo, Kudjoe Affutu in Awutu, Central Region, and Eric Kpakpo in La.
The studio since 2005
The Kane Kwei workshop uses light wood as wawa (white wood) or emien for the coffins intended for funerals. Those coffins intended for export as artworks are made from harder and more expensive wood, such as limba or African Mahogany.
The Kane Kwei workshop is deeply anchored in Ga tradition, both by the genesis of its productions, by protocols framing their local use, and by its functioning based on apprentices, who can number about ten. At the end of the apprenticeship, which lasts from two to five years, a traditional ceremony is organized. In this occasion, the apprentice has to pay a sum of money, donate alcoholic drinks, a parasol, a pair of sandals to the boss of the workshop, and then a certificate is handed to him.
The manufacturing process of coffin begins by the scrupulous observation of visual documents reproducing the proposed model, or even the actual model - a live hen, for example - followed by its being realised in three dimensions. Neither plans nor sketches are prerequisite to the manufacturing.
While some figurative coffins were acquired in the 1970s by American gallery owners (Vivian Burns in 1973 and Ernie Wolfe, both from Los Angeles), it is since 1989 that these objects achieved international recognition as works of art, through their successive display in exhibitions: Magiciens de la terre (1989, Musée National d'Art Moderne (Centre Georges Pompidou), Paris and Grande halle de la Villette, Paris - Curator Jean-Hubert Martin) and "Africa Explores" (1992, New Museum of Modern Art, New York - Curator Susan Vogel). Some of the coffins shown in these exhibitions were done in the Kane Kwei shop, others were made by Paa Joe or Daniel Mensah
Coffins created by Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop - selected list
|Animals||Antelope • Aulacode (Thryonomys swinderianus) • Cameleon • Catfish • Coq • Cow • Crab • Crayfish • Doberman dog • Dove • Eagle • Elephant • Hen • Lobster • Lion • Parrot • Peacok • Pig • Reindeer • Red fish • Sardine • Saw fish • Shark • Snail • Snake • Spider • Striped fish • Tilapia • Tuna • Turkey • Turtle • Whale|
|Buildings||Church • Danish traditional farm • Grocery shop • Two storeys building|
|Fruits and vegetables||Banana • Carrot • Cocoa pod • Corn • Green pepper • Onion • Palm nut • Pineapple • Pumpkin • Red pepper • Sugar cane|
|Objects||9mm bullet • Asante stool • Ballpoint with notebook • Bass drum • Bible • Bottle of beer (Star) • Bottle of beer (Tuborg) • Bottle of Coca Cola • Bottle of soju • Bottle of vodka (Beluga) • Bottle of vodka (Stolichnaya) • Can of Aquarius energy drink • Canned mackerels and tomato • Chief's scepter • Cigarette (London) • Cinema projector • Condom sachet • Crate of beer (Carsberg) • Falling tree • Fishing net • Flour bag • “Graphic” newspaper • Guitar • Hunting gun • I-Phone • Kalashnikov magasine • Lego brick • Machine gun • Matrioshka • Soccer shoe • Spaner • Traditional sword• Spoon • Sewing machine • Pot • Hammer • Maersk container • Microphone • Outboard engine • Piano • Plane • Ray Ban case • Referee whistle • Remote control (Philips) • Robot • Rocket toy • Saw • Syringe • Soccer ball • Smith's bellows • Talking drum • Tray of frozen food • Trowel • Wad of banknoates (Danish) • Wad of banknotes (Russian) • Windmill •|
|Vehicles||32 seats bus • Ambulance • Aircraft (Ghana Airways) • Aircraft (KLM) • Bedford truck • Canoe • Cruise ship • Fire truck • Fishing boat • Garbage truck • Luxury bus • Mercedes-Benz car saloon • Mercedes-Benz car (convertible) • Private jet • Toyota Corolla • Tractor • Volkswagen minibus • War tank|
|Others||Sun • Soccer field|
Presence of the studio on the international cultural stage since 2005: see Eric Adjetey Anang
- The Master of Coffins - 26 minutes documentary by Luis Nachbin / Matrioska Films for GloboTV (Brasil, 2013)
Some Group exhibitions: coffins from Kane Kwei Shop (Teshie) and from Paa Joe (Nungua)
- 2005 "Arts of Africa“, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, France
- 2005 "African Art Now”, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, USA
- 2005 "Sexualität und Tod - AIDS in der Zeitgenössischen Afrikanischen Kunst", RJM Museum, Cologne, Germany.
- 2003 "Ghana: hier et aujourd’hui / Ghana: Yesterday and today", Musée Dapper, Paris, France
- 1998 "AFRICA Vibrant New Art from a Dynamic Continent”, Tobu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan.
- 1996 "Neue Kunst aus Afrika“, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany.
- 1993 "Skizzen eines Projektes“, Ludwig Forum für internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany.
- 1991 "Africa Explores: 20th Century African Art”, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, USA.
- 1989 "Magiciens de la Terre”, National Museum of Contemporary Art - Georges Pompidou Center, La Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris, France.
- 2000 "Ein Fisch für die letzte Ruhe“, Museum auf dem Ohlsdorfer Friedhof, Hamburg, Germany.
- 1998 "Samuel Kane Kwei”, Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art, Geneva, Switzerland.
- 1997 "Wie das Leben, so der Sarg...Samuel Kane Kwei, Nam June Paik“, Ifa Gallery, Bonn, Germany.
- 1995 Nam June Paik Recent Works, Benamou-Gravier Gallery, Paris, France. Kane Kwei works used by Nam June Paik.
- Bonetti, Roberta, 2010. "Alternate Histories of the Abebuu Adekai", in: Afrcan Arts, Bd. Autumn 2010, S. 14-33.
- Bonetti 2009: Roberta Bonetti, "Abebuu adekai chez les Ga du Ghana. Un regard anthropologique sur l’image", in Histoire de l'art et anthropologie, Paris, coédition INHA / Musée du quai Branly («Les actes»), 2009.
- Bonetti 2009: Roberta Bonetti, "Absconding in plain sight. The Ghanaian Receptacles of Proverbs revisited", RES, 55/56, Spring-Autumn 2009.
- Bonetti 2008: Roberta Bonetti, "Antropologia di oggetti funerari tra arte, mercato e musei", Quaderni LEA (3) Bologne, Baiesi, 2008.
- Bonetti 2005: Roberta Bonetti, Artefacts in Transit, Laboratorio di Etno-Antropologia, (4) Bologne, Baiesi, 2005.
- Burns 1974: Vivian Burns, "Travel to Heaven: fantasy coffins". In African Arts, 7 (2), Winter 1974, pp. 24–25. Los Angeles.
- McClusky 2002: Pamela McClusky, "Riding into the next life: a Mercedes-Benz coffin", in Art from Africa: long steps never broke a back, pp. 244–51. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum in association with Lund Humphries, 2002.
- Quarcoopome 2003: Nii O. Quarcoopome, Majestueux départs vers l'au-delà = Majestic rides into the afterlife. In Ghana: hier et aujourd'hui (Ghana: Yesterday and today), pp. 261–83. Paris: Musée Dapper, 2003.
- Secrétan 1994: Thierry Secretan, Il fait sombre, va-t-en !, Paris, Editions Hazan, 1994.
- Soppelsa 1994: Robert T. Soppelsa. A life well lived : fantasy coffins of Kane Quaye, Gallery of Art, University of Missouri-Kansas City, September 23-October 21, 1994. In African Arts, 28 (2) spring 1995, pp. 74–75. Los Angeles.
- Soulillou 1995: Jacques Soulillou. "The solubility of Ghanaian coffins in a cathodic milieu = De la solubilité des cercueils ghanéens en milieu cathodique". In Revue Noire, no. 16, mars-avril-mai 1995, pp. 88–89. Paris.
- Tschumi 2013: The Figurative Palanquins of the Ga. History and Significance. In: African Arts, Vol. 46, Nr. 4, 2013, S. 60–73.
- Tschumi 2008: The buried treasures of the Ga. Coffin Art in Ghana Benteli, 2008. French: Les trésors enterrés des Ga. L’art des cercueils au Ghana 2011. German: Die vergrabenen Schätze der Ga. Sarg-Kunst aus Ghana 2006.
- Tschumi 2006: Regula Tschumi, "Last Respects, First Honoured. Ghanaian Burial Rituals and Figural Coffins", in: Kunstmuseum Bern (Hrsg.): Six Feet Under. Autopsy of Our Relation to the Dead. Kerber, Bielefeld & Leipzig 2006, pp. 114–25. Deutsch: Die letzte Ehre kommt zuerst. Ghanaische Bestattungsrituale und figürliche Särge, pp. 114–25*.
- Tschumi 2004: Regula Tschumi, "A Report on Paa Joe and the Proverbial Coffins of Teshie and Nungua, Ghana", Africa et Mediterraneo, nos. 47-8, 2004, pp. 44–7.
- Vogel 1991: Susan Vogel. "New functional art: future traditions", in Africa Explores: 20th-century African art, pp. 94–113. New York: Center for African Art; Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1991.
- Sépulture sur mesure. Film by Philippe Lespinasse. Grand Angle Production. photo- and video archives by Regula Tschumi, 2009. (Film about the work of Ataa Oko and Eric Adjetey Anang).
- Les cercueils de Monsieur Kane Kwei, Thierry Secretan, 1989. Film about Seth Kane Kwei
- culturebase.net. "Kane Kwei artist portrait". culturebase.net. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Regula Tschumi: The Figurative Palanquins of the Ga. History and Significance, in: African Arts, Vol. 46, Nr. 4, 2013, S. 60-73
- Regula Tschumi: The Buried Treasures of the Ga.Coffin Art in Ghana", Benteil 2008, p. 52-56.
- [dead link]
- "Evénement - Ghana hier et aujourd'hui". Africultures. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "RZ-Online: "Ein Fisch für die letzte Ruhe"". Rhein-zeitung.de. 2000-11-23. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "revue noire N°16, 1995 .pdf - Fichier PDF". Fichier-pdf.fr. Retrieved 2013-03-29.