Zohra Opoku

Works

Zohra Opoku, Sassa, installation view at Gallery 1957, Accra, Photo by Zohra Opoku, courtesy the artist and Gallery 1957

 

Zohra Opoku is a an artist of German and Ghanaian descent based in Accra, employees installation, sculpture and photography at the helm of her practice. 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 centered 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 embedded 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.

Opoku has exhibited her work in association with Gallery 1957 Accra, Gallery Commune1 Cape Town, CCA Lagos, ANO Ghana/DAK ́ART 11th Biennial, Nubuke Foundation Accra, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Gallery Peter Herrmann Berlin, Musée de l‘Ethnographie Bourdeaux, Guggenheim Bilbao, Broad Art Museum Michigan, Kruger Gallery Chicago and 1.54 NY. Her recent residencies include Jan van Eyck Institute Maastricht/NL, Kala Institute Berkeley/CA and Institute Sacatar Salvador da Bahia/BR.

CV


Born 1976, Altdöbern, Former GDR / Lives in Accra

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


2016

MAKING AFRICA, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) DRAPED HISTORIES, Solo Show, Kruger Gallery Chicago

SASSA, Solo Show, Gallery 1957, Accra
AFRICA FORECAST, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta MAKING AFRICA, Kunsthal Rotterdam 49’DEGREES, Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth

2015

HE DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING ON, Commune.1, Capetown

MATERIAL EFFECTS, Eli&Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan
REMEMBER TO COME BACK, Mariane Ibrahim, Seattle

FUTURE AFRICA: VISIONS IN TIME, Iwalewahaus Bayreuth (DE)

MAKING AFRICA, Guggenheim Bilbao
DESIGNING FUTURES, LagosPhoto Festival, Lagos

WE DON'T CONTEMPORARY, (Curatorial project), Kampnagel Hamburg
TAKE IT TO THE STREETS, Alliance Francaise, Accra

FELLOWSHIP SHOW, Kala Institute, Berkeley (CA)

WOW PRINT, WOW, Amsterdam
MAKING AFRICA, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

STUDIO SHOW, Jan van Eyck Institute, Maastricht (NL)

2014

THE BILLBOARD PROJECT, Solo show in Public Space, 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 Francaise, Accra

2013

HEALING THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE CREATIVE ARTS SYMPOSIUM, Institute for African Studies
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

PRÈT-À-PARTAGER Touring Exhibition: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2012
 ifa Gallery Berlin & Stuttgart, Germany
2012 Nubuke Foundation Accra, Ghana
2011 City Hall Capetown, Southafrica
2011 
CCA, AAF & YabaTech Lagos, Nigeria
2010 Fortaleza Maputo, Mozambiqe
2010
 Le Mànege, Dakar, Senegal 2009

GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS

2017
Art Dubai 2017, Artist residency (ARE)
2016
Sacatar, Artist residency, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (BR) 2015
Kala Institute, Fellowship Award, Berkeley (CA)
Research Residency, Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth (DE)
Artist Residency, Bagfactory, Johannesburg (ZA)

2014
Artist Residency, Jan van Eyck Institute, Maastrich (NL)
Art show funding, Goethe Institute + Alliance Francaise(GH)
IFA (DE)

2013
Moving Africa (ZA), Visiting grant for Salon Urbain de Douala (CM)
Art Show funding Accra, Alliance Francaise+Goethe Institute (GH)


2012
Artist Residency, Art OMI, Ghent, NY

2008-2012
PRET-À-PARTAGER, Aktion Afrika, German Cultural Fund Couture Commune, Artist Residency, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart

News

Publications

Zohra Opoku, Sassa
Exhibition Catalogue, 2016

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