Anansi’s Cloud

Laka2020 178 DesignAuthors’ description:
In Akan-Ashanti folklore (Ashanti & Kwawu areas of Ghana) there exists a character known as Anansi (e-NAHN-see) who captures four of the most dangerous creatures in the world, and in exchange for them the Sky-God Nyame offers him all the stories of the world. Anansi is henceforth known as the God of Knowledge and Stories and is well-known for his part in the dispersal of wisdom. The story of Anansi’s Pot describes his selfish hoarding of all the worlds knowledge, which he secretly sealed into a “pot” for safe keeping. Discontent with the safety of his prized possession Anansi took the pot to a thorny silk-cotton tree deep within the forest. While attempting to climb the tree Anansi slipped, and the pot fell to the ground. From the shattered container all the wisdom of the world poured out around the base of the tree. Before he could reclaim it, a sudden storm arrives, and the deluge of rainwater carries the wisdom to the sea, spreading it throughout the entire world.
Within all folktales there is wisdom buried just below the surface of the narrative, an inextricable and useful byproduct of fictional constructs. Before the printing press the oral tradition carried much of the burden associated with the preservation of wisdom and knowledge. Beyond the utilitarian aspects of this practice, the oral tradition served as an impetus for social interaction. The dissemination of knowledge was a moment of intimate discourse, by which you learned not only of the subject matter, but also of the person. Much of the discord that exists in our now turbulent and tribal socio-political climate can be attributed to the marginalization of stories as a meaningful endeavor, and the stratification and isolation caused by technology.
In 1440 AD, the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, and by 1517 a German Monk name Martin Luther, began nailing a list of complaints to the church door, and thus the reformation began. Technology will always increase the capacity and speed of communication and will carry with it the unfortunate side effect of fragmentation, as individuals learn more and seek out the like-minded. The sharing of stories, especially those with dissimilar backgrounds, ideologies, and ethnicities is an underrated yet vital solution to the fracturing of modern society. The story of Anansi’s pot was likely told by an Ashanti mother warning her young child about the pitfalls of selfishness or an uncle speaking to his nephews about the dangers of hubris. Although the underlying morale guidance is important, the act of sharing a story becomes a meaningful moment of interaction. It is a sharing of culture, or rather an invitation to tradition, and is a crucial component in the formation of community. The proposed installation is titled Anansi’s Cloud. It is a collector of stories, wisdom, & culture. It is both a material metaphor of our social aspirations, and a physical manifestation of a virtual-social landscape.

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