Doug Fishbone
Tate Britain: Exhibition
9 October 2010 – 3 January 2011
  • Doug Fishbone Elmina 2010

    Doug Fishbone
    Elmina 2010

    Photo: Thierry Bal
    Courtesy of the artist and Rokeby, London

Doug Fishbone often uses satire and humour within his film, performance and installation works to examine consumer culture and the mass media in a critical and disarming way.

Elmina, Fishbone’s new feature-length dramatic film pushes this exploration in a different direction, presenting an unusual experiment in collaboration and co-authorship shot entirely on location in Ghana. It was scripted and filmed by a leading Ghanaian production team, with a cast of major Ghanaian celebrities. The only artistic intervention is the insertion of Fishbone, a white American artist, as the lead role in an otherwise completely African production. Through this simple gesture of using a racially and culturally incongruous actor, Fishbone tests the viewers’ preconceptions of how we interact with cinema and fiction. He is asking for a suspension of disbelief far enough to absorb his substitution into the genuine structures of a popular Ghanaian film. By fully immersing himself as an actor in these conditions, he relinquishes editorial control as an artist. The project continues Fishbone’s investigation into the relativity of perception and understanding, pushing what audiences expect as the acceptable limits of role and representation in film.

Shown for the first time here at Tate Britain, Fishbone’s project is made more provocative by the strategy surrounding its release. He adopts the divergent distribution and marketing mechanisms of both the western art world and the Ghanaian film industry; whilst on show here in London, audiences in Ghana will be able to see the film in cinemas. In addition, Elmina will be available as a collectable artwork and simultaneously sold as an inexpensive DVD and Video Compact Disc in street markets in the UK and Africa, as well as African immigrant communities throughout the world.

Elmina, approximately 90 minutes, videoMade in partnership with Revele Films

Doug Fishbone was born in New York in 1969. He earned an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London in 2003. Selected solo exhibitions include Rokeby, London (2009), Gimpel Fils, London (2006) and 30,000 Bananas in Trafalgar Square (2004). Selected group exhibitions include Rude Britannia: British Comic Art, Tate Britain (2010); Busan Biennale Expenditure, Busan, South Korea (2008); Laughing in a Foreign Language, Hayward Gallery, London (2008); British Art Show 6, Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester (2006). He performs regularly at both international and UK venues, including appearances at ICA and Southbank Centre, London. Fishbone lives and works in London.

Watch the theatrical trailer for Elmina on YouTube

 The work was made possible with the generous support of the Zabludowicz Collection, Wendy Fisher, and Tamer Amr