Back in the 1940s, after the horrors of the Second World War, a host of arts institutions were set up to bring some joy back to Britain’s cultural life. The Edinburgh Festival, started in 1947, was one such project. The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) was another, set up in London in the same year. It was intended as a space where artists and writers could debate ideas outside the traditional confines of the Royal Academy: “Such is our idea…an adult play centre, a workshop where work is a joy, a source of vitality and daring experiment.”
Fast forward to 2006 and Ekow Eshun is the new Artistic Director of the ICA. Eshun knows a thing or two about contemporary art and culture. His credits are impressive; formerly the youngest editor of men’s magazine Arena aged 28, Eshun was once billed as one of Britain’s 30 most talented people under 30 by the Evening Standard. He has also written a book about his journey to Ghana in 2001. ‘Black Gold of the Sun’ traces his past in Africa and Britain, exploring the personal questions of multicultural identity. With the book recently out in paperback, Ekow Eshun will be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival in discussion with the novelist Hari Kunzru about their experiences as writers from culturally diverse backgrounds. It is sure to be an interesting event for anyone interested in the broad nature of identity or the contemporary art scene.