Zohra Opoku: Harmattan Tales
From January 19 to March 17, 2018, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery will present Harmattan, a solo exhibition of work by German-Ghanian artist Zohra Opoku.
Zohra Opoku examines the political, historical, cultural, and socio-economic influences in the formation of personal identities, particularly in the context of contemporary Ghana. Her practice centers around textiles and traditional Ghanaian fashion modes, which have been an inherent part of the country’s identity and industry throughout West Africa’s complex history and serve as vehicles for her to connect to the abstraction of identity in a tangible way.
While her work relays social commentary and broadly relevant themes around the human experience, each of Zohra’s explorations is intimately rooted in personal identity politics. She repeatedly integrates family heirlooms and her own self-image into her visual observations of Ghana’s cultural memory. In her exhibition at Accra’s Gallery 1957, Sassa, she delved into the Ashanti concept, which can refer to a “universal energy” or a “restless spirit,” by using a layered combination of installation and photographic work. For the series, Zohra ventured to the Asante region to capture the Ahemaa, Queen Mothers of the Ashanti. She also created a body of work in which her face is obscured by nature in self-portraits, revealing images of the self only completed by the influence of place. ‘Unraveled Threads’ Opoku’s latest project, is a continuation of her work with textiles and photography as expressions of history and culture. In her words, “it’s a continuation, for me, of this experience of being limited by my identity.”
Zohra Opoku has participated in significant exhibitions at Gallery 1957 (Accra), Nubuke Foundation (Accra), Centre for Contemporary Art (Lagos), !Kauru African Contemporary Art (Johannesburg), Commune.1 (Cape Town), Kunsthaus Hamburg (Hamburg), Iwalewahaus (Bayreuth), Musée de l Ethnographie (Bordeaux), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), Kunsthal (Rotterdam) and Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum (Michigan State University). Her recent residencies include Jan van Eyck Institute Maastricht, Netherlands; Kala Institute Berkeley, United States; and Institute Sacatar Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
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