© Zohra Opoku One of Me I, 2017 Screenprint on denim, acrylic, thread 89 3/8 x 68 1/8 in 227 x 173 cm, Courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim

Zohra Opoku is an artist of German and Ghanaian descent based in Accra. She 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 dress codes, 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.

Opoku’s explorations have been mostly through the lens of her camera; her photography is expressed through screen-printing and alternative photo processing on varieties of natural fabrics. In addition to this, she experiments with new and found wood as well as textiles and garments used in different manifestations of site-specific installations.

 

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I am thrilled to start my @photoworks_uk takeover today. Thank you for having me here (: Hello there, my name is ZohraOpoku. @zohraopoku I am a Visual artist from Accra/Ghana, my research and explorations have been mostly through the lens of a camera; while the photographs are expressed through screen-printing and alternative photo processing on varieties of natural fabrics. In today’s post I am sitting in front of a recent work called the ‘Travellers Tree’. Photographed in 2016 during a residency in Bahia in Brazil, printed in 2018 at the @janvaneyckacademie with @margriet.thissen ?? The series marked my adventure back into analog film. Inspired by the cultural similarities between Brazil and Ghana, I used the ‘Traveler’s tree’ as the icon in the series HYBRIDITY. ‘The Traveler’s tree’ is said to align its photosynthetic fan in an east-west orientation, which can serve as a crude compass, allowing weary travelers to orient themselves. Travel this week with me to my past which I digest in various forms of print and installations. “The Travelers Tree”, Screen Print on linen/ vintage trading sack for tobacco, 2017 Photocredit @sasyrae ✨ #Photoworks_uk, #instagramtakeover, #photography, #travelerstree, #ananlogfilm, #screenprinting, #blackandwhite, #afrogermanidentity, #ghana, #bahia

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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.

Unraveled Threads (2017) 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 (un)limited by my identity”.

 

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@zohraopoku #instagramtakeover for @photoworks_uk ? All missteps and faults in the printing process create parallels with our memories that point to our own history. It provides the opportunity to unravel what must be made visible to gain confidence and appreciation of the common family space that we all inhabit. In that vein, I have rebuilt a new narrative for all of us using textile, specifically Kente cloth, which belongs to my family. The beautifully weaved, magically structured textile specially made for a traditional leader, contains just a few of the 1,000 combinations of designs from the ancient culture of the Asante people. My brother Kwasi is wearing here a Kente from my late father. To traditionally wrap the heavy weight in the heat was not only a physical challenge but also metaphorical an act of walking in my father’s footsteps. “In Bob‘s Footsteps“ 2017, Screen Print on cotton and cotton jacquard, denim, thread, 200x282cm #Photoworks_uk, #photography, #screenprinting, #unraveledthreads, #kentecloth, #asante, #blackandwhite, #belonging, #siblings, #ghana

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@zohraopoku #instagramtakeover for @photoworks_uk ???? While my work is dealing with the context of textile culture as starting point of my research practice as well as the foundation for my prints, you will find it mostly placed in the context of nature, which is symbolizing for me a place of home – or different expressed: a familiar safe space. At the same time I have been experimenting with disguise ever since, especially in my self-portrait series from 2015 and my self-veil series from 2018. There are forms of (in)visibility through leaves and branches and again textile speaking the sentiment of my fluid identity. “One of Me I” 2017, Screen print on canvas & cotton, denim, black tea dye, thread, vintage Kente cloth application, 227 x 173 cm #Photoworks_uk, #photography, #screenprinting, #unraveledthreads, #kentecloth, #asante, #blackandwhite, #fluididentity, #home

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Exhibited internationally, Zohra Opoku has shown work in association with Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Chicago), 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 É thnographie (Bordeaux), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), Kunsthal (Rotterdam) and Broad Art Museum (Michigan State University), Museum for Photography (Chicago). Her recent residencies include Jan van Eyck Institute Maastricht, Netherlands; Kala Institute Berkeley, United States; Institute Sacatar.

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