KARST awarded funding for international digital collaboration

More Mogya Vinyl Cover, audio-based works from acoustic-based Highlife sounds.

KARST has been awarded funding to research a digital solution to international artistic collaboration restrictions because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

KARST will receive money from the British Council Arts Digital Collaboration Fund to research the development of a collaborative digital platform that aims to preserve and interpret Highlife’s legacy, reinventing it for a new generation of musicians and audiences in Ghana and internationally.

Highlife is a music genre that originated in the early 20th century in present-day Ghana. It uses traditional Akan music’s melodic and main rhythmic structures but is played with Western instruments. Characterised by horns and multiple guitars, in the 1970s it acquired an uptempo, synth-driven sound.

Through the project Mogya Na Nsuo (Blood and Water), KARST will work with UK artist Larry Achiampong and Julia Greenway, a curator focussing on how digital media influences the aesthetic presentation of gender, economics, and environment. It is a collaboration with the Bokoor African Popular Music Archive Foundation in Ghana.

Artist Larry Achiampong, photo by Emile Holb. Image provided courtesy of the artist.
Artist Larry Achiampong, photo by Emile Holb. Image provided courtesy of the artist.

Achiampong’s solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity. His works examine his communal and personal British-Ghanaian heritage, particularly the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position. He was a Jarman Award-nominated artist in 2018.

KARST’s head of creative programme Ben Borthwick said: “At a time of such uncertainty about how Britain will connect with culture beyond its borders, the British Council’s Digital Collaboration Fund is a platform that enables KARST to continue working internationally. This has always been at the heart of our programming along with the crossover between music and contemporary art which makes Larry Achiampong the perfect artist for us to work with.”

The British Council’s Digital Collaboration grants focus on new ideas for the virtual delivery of art research, digital exhibitions and online events.

A British Council Arts spokesperson said: “We have always supported international artistic collaboration through our work. In response to increasing restrictions on global travel due to Covid-19 and rising concerns about the sustainability of face-to-face collaborations, we are now looking for new ways to foster these international connections. 

“The Digital Collaboration Fund aims to address this challenge. Through a series of grants, we are supporting organisations to devise new virtual ways of working internationally, in turn creating a climate-friendly approach to international collaboration and artistic exchange.”

KARST executive director Donna Howard added: “We are delighted to receive this grant because improving the digital offer for contemporary art is one of our main aims. Digital knowledge and technologies are a natural and authentic part of how our audience engages, and this gives us the opportunity for innovation and experimentation in the way contemporary art is delivered.”

For further details contact Tilly Craig on tc@karst.org.uk / 07871077390