Want to see the yellow brick road? Head to Africa
Serge Attukwei Clottey, a Ghanaian artist, has used yellow plastic jugs to piece together an installation that speaks to a variety of themes that are essential to the human story
The yellow brick road is real, but you’ll have to travel all the way to Labadi Beach, Ghana, to see it. And if you’re expecting something like the one that Dorothy followed in “The Wizard of Oz,” you’re in for a surprise.
Local artist Serge Attukwei Clottey has repurposed the bright yellow plastic jugs that many Ghanaians use for ferrying water to their homes in order to create a colorful installation that touches on a range of themes, including migration, hope and property rights, according to CNN.
Clottey, who was born in neighboring Accra, grew up in Labadi Beach. As a child, he used the yellow jerrycans — which were initially used to ship cooking oil to Africa — for fetching the household’s water. As an adult, he began cutting up the containers, piecing them together into quilt-like patterns and painting them. He has also used the iconic object that Ghanaians refer to as “gallons” to create masks.
Clottey calls his work with the material “Afrogallonism.” Though his art quickly attracted attention and a fan base in the West, some locals were not enthusiastic about Clottey’s use of an object they considered an essential part of their daily lives. After Clottey explained to them that it is actually unhealthy to use the jugs for storing water, Ghanaians became more accepting of his projects, Clottey explained to CNN.
His installation intentionally echoes “The Wizard of Oz,” Clottey told CNN’s African Voices. It also recalls his family’s migration down the coast and many Ghanaians’ struggle to hold on to the properties they attained through verbal agreements. “I use the work to sort of demarcate the property through the installation,” he said.
Clottey and assistants work together to cut up the jugs, stitching them together before laying them in Labadi’s dusty streets; sometimes residents get involved, too, helping with the work, according to the BBC.
In 2018, Clottey told the BBC that he had used 30,000 of the jugs since he started incorporating them into his art in 2005; the “Yellow Brick Road” project began in 2016, the BBC reported.