Ghana ThinkTank: Developing the First World
THE GHANA THINKTANK
The Ghana ThinkTank was founded in 2006 by Christopher Robbins, John Ewing, and Matey Odonkor. Carmen Montoya joined the project in 2009. The network includes think tanks from Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Serbia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea, and the US prison system, and continues to grow…
Based on their experiences living and working abroad on the fringes of international development, they experienced many conflicting effects of “the goodwill industry,” projects undertaken in the name of “development” or “spreading democracy.”
They also saw how others perceived “America” – in ways they never had while living in the U.S. So they devised a way that the American public could experience what it’s like to have people from a different culture analyze us and formulate solutions for how to fix us.
They were amazed at the dramatic effect such a simple “flip” or role reversal could have.
As the project developed, they found that the process was able to create unlikely networks that crossed divides of ethnic and social conflict.
They worked with African refugees in Israel and the Tel Aviv residents trying to keep them out; deported Immigrants and border vigilantes along the US/Mexican border; and Serbs and Albanians living in a town separated by a river and protected from each other by UN troops. They became known for their unconventional approach to negotiating social conflicts through a blend of public art and community organizing that flips expected power dynamics.
Their recent work has been featured in major international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennial of Architecture; the National Museum of Wales; Hong Kong/Shenzhen Biennale in Shenzhen, China; ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany; New Museum Festival of Ideas; the Foundation for Art and Technology, Liverpool, UK; Nikolaj Kunsthallen/Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center; and Eyebeam Center, New York.
They received a Creative Capital Award in 2013 and spoke at the 2014 Creative Time Summit in Stockholm, Sweden.