This documentary is about renowned Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji, whose elegiac installation Genocide Serenade, bemoaning the Rwanda Genocide and the wars tearing Africa apart, captured imagination globally. Largely an autodidact, Setordji is a painter, sculptor, installation, weaver, a highly innovative architect, and an international tutor and benefactor. Through his Ghanaian-based artHAUS workshop project, he affords an invaluable nursing bed to aspiring artists and student artists from all over the world. He has exhibited extensively in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, France, Germany, and Geneva, and he is currently developing a programme to revive traditional craftsmanship in Africa. He was awarded the Rockefeller Foundation’s inaugural Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, in 2008, alongside Mona Hatoum and Shahzia Sikander.

This definitive documentary on Kofi Setordji has no antecedents. The artist’s internationalism, versatility, and his atypical inner-narratives, call for an unconventional approach. To be precise, this film cannot be rooted strictly in the subject’s locus, or presumed anthropology and ethnography. It must invent itself. It must evolve from the ‘body languages’ of Setordji’s art, the theses and ideologies underpinning it, and the character of the artist himself. It has to be Avant Garde.

The film will attempt to establish a chronology of Setordji’s development, and attempt the complex task of contextualising his work, in art historical as well as cultural and political terms. This will include a shrewd analysis of the way he ‘survived’ Ghana’s or Africa’s political, economic and cultural realities, to emerge as the great international influencer he is. The film will also establish Setordji’s place in art history, his past and present contemporaries, while defining his uniqueness.

Stylistically, the film will enjoy a lot of spatial freedom, in terms of its pacing and design. There will be a lyrical juxtaposition of interviews, archive material, footage of Setordji at work, punctuated by rolling montages of Setordji’s art pieces (themed according to subject matter, media, medium or timelines). It is hoped that this approach will present the artist in a pivotal way he deserves, while informing the viewer thoroughly about his life and work, especially the way his mind works. Beyond that, sound and image will be manipulated to shore up or crystallise rarefied notions and idiosyncrasy. Director Ishmael Annobil will narrate the film succinctly, offering the prime critique, back-story and anecdotes. This and expert commentaries will be interspersed throughout the film in such a way as to avoid weighing down the narrative.