Zohra Opoku

Works

Zohra Opoku,Wisteria, 2015, Screen-print

 

Zohra Opoku is a an artist of German and Ghanian descent based in Accra, whose work spans installation, performance and lens-based media. Opoku’s examination of textile culture considers fashion’s political, psychological, and socio-cultural role in the formation of personal identities. Having received a Masters in Fashion from Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, her practice is centred around the rich cultures of textiles and design, which have been an inherent part of West African identity throughout Ghana’s layered history.

In Opoku’s socially engaged practice, west African traditions of spirituality and family lineage form a dialogue with the contemporary realities of self-authorship and hybridity. Exhibited internationally, Opoku’s is also known for her interventions and street actions that are imbedded within urban infrastructures. In “THE BILLBOARD PROJECT” (2014-15) the artist assembled a series of large-scale installations formed of secondhand garments woven together in arrangements and strung on empty billboards across central Accra. The work confronted the dual notion of materialistic waste and secondhand clothing, revealing its effects on social status and identity politics.

Through her exploration of African cultural memory, Opoku creates visual observations of consumer culture that question the meaning of national identity. In her exhibition at Gallery 1957 she explored the Ashanti concept of “SASSA”, which can refer both to a ‘universal energy’ or a ‘vengeful spirit’, using a rich combination of installation and photographic work. In this series, Opoku ventured to Southern Ghana to capture the Ahemaa, queen Mothers of Ashanti (women with influential roles in local government), and also took self-portraits. In her evolving practice, the artist continues to explore versions of what constitutes the self through various time-frames and social spaces. In dialogue with her surroundings, Opoku merges a multitude of landscapes in search of a trans-historical self, inventing her own rituals and traditions in the process.

CV

Born 1976 Altdöbern, Former GDR

Selected Exhibitions

2017

  • Back Stories, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle
  • FAVT, National Museum Nairobi, Aga Khan Hall, Nairobi
  • Room with its Own Rules, Chamber Gallery, NY
  • Being Her(e), Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
  • NATHI.AHA.SASA/US.HERE.NOW, Guest Curator, Wiener Westwochen, Vienna
  • Making Africa, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
  • We were Queens and Kings, Solo Show, ANO Gallery, Accra
  • Harmattan Tales, Solo Show, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle

2016​

  • Making Africa, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Barcelona
  • Africa Reframed, Øksnehallen, Copenhagen
  • Draping Histories, Kruger Gallery, Chicago
  • Sassa, Gallery 1957, Accra
  • African Forecast, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta
  • Spelling The Shadow to Support the Substance, Gallery Momo, Cape Town
  • Making Africa, Kunsthal Rotterdam
  • Future Port of Entry, Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth

2015

  • But he doesn't have anything on, Commune.1, Capetown
  • Material Effects, The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan
  • Remember to come back, Mariane Ibrahim, Seattle
  • Future Africa: Visions in time, Iwalewahaus Bayreuth
  • Making Africa, Guggenheim Bilbao
  • Designing Futures, LagosPhoto Festival, Lagos
  • We don’t contemporary, Kampnagel Hamburg
  • Take it to the streets, Alliance Française, Accra
  • Fellowship Show, Kala Institute, Berkeley
  • PRINT, WOW, Amsterdam
  • Making Africa, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

2014

  • The Billboard Project, Accra
  • Magical Riso, Jan van Eyck Institute, Maastricht
  • ...Do Delay, Public show by Pick Nick, Nicosia
  • Masked/Unmasked, DAK´ART 11th Biennial, St.Louis
  • Paroles de Femmes, Alliance Française, Accra

2013

  • Healing the environment and the creative arts symposium, Institute for African Studies, Legon
  • Virtual Material, Musée de l´Ethnographie, Bourdeaux
  • Post no bill, Solo Show, Jamestown Community Theatre Centre, Accra
  • Virtual Material, Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth
  • Attitude., Costumes & Visuals for Interactive Performance Installation Infecting the City Festival, Cape Town

2012

  • Berlin Textures, OKK/Raum 29, Berlin
  • Sommerhängung, Gallery Peter Herrmann, Berlin
  • Attitude., Costumes & Visuals for Interactive Performance Installation by Sebastian Klemm, Kunst im Club, Stuttgart
  • Handwash Only, Gallery Peter Herrmann, Berlin

2009–2012

  • Pret-à-Partager, Touring Exhibition:
    Ethio Alliance Française, Addis Ababa 2012
    ifa Gallery Berlin & Stuttgart, 2012
    Nubuke Foundation Accra, 2011
    City Hall, Cape Town, 2011
    CCA, AAF & YabaTech Lagos, 2010
    Fortaleza Maputo, Maputo 2010
    Gallery Le Mànege, Dakar, 2009

Grants and Fellowships

2016

  • ANO, artist residency, Accra
  • Sacatar, artist residency, Salvador da Bahia

2015

  • Kala Institute, Fellowship Award, Berkeley
  • Research Residency, Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth

2014

  • Artist Residency, Jan van Eyck Institute, Maastricht
  • Art show funding, Goethe Institute + Alliance Francaise, IFA

2013

  • Moving Africa, Visiting grant for Salon Urbain de Douala
  • Art show funding Accra, Alliance Francaise & Goethe Institute

2012

  • Artist Residency, Art OMI, New York

2008–2012

  • Pret-à-Partager, Aktion Afrika, German Cultural Fund
  • Couture Commune, Artist Residency, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart

News

Publications

Zohra Opoku, Sassa
Exhibition Catalogue, 2016

View publication

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