ZOHRA OPOKU

Zohra Opoku (DE/GH) is an Accra-based versatile artist whose work employs media including installations, photography and video to explore the sophistication of textile cultures in disparate spaces targeting fashion’s political and psychological role and socio-cultural dynamics in relation to African history and individualistic or societal identities.
This experience enroots her aesthetic practice into sculptural modules as her [in]direct social commentary as seen in THE BILLBOARDPROJECT, composed of big scale installations of second-hand clothes which were displayed in central Accra. She is employing metaphors of repetition and disguise in her portrait series TEXTURES and SIDESPECIFIC presented in specifically identified locations.
Opoku holds an MA (2003) in Fashion from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. Her residencies include Art OMI, Ghent (NY/2012)/, Iwalewa Haus Bayreuth (DE/2013) and Jan van Eyck Institute (NL/2014). Opoku was recently awarded a fellowship for the Kala Institute Berkeley (CA/2015). She is included in the touring group exhibitions Making Africa (2015-20) curated by Amelie Klein and Okwui Enwezor. Upcoming exhibitions include the Material Effects curated by Yesomi Umolu at Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan and Designing Futures curated by Christina de Middel at the LagosPhoto Festival 2015.

REVOLUTION 3.0

The research project investigates the entanglements of aesthetics and politics in situations of radical social transformation, and the becoming of icons. What constitutes the ‘seismographic power’ of images, and the sustainability of icons in terms of radicalism? Central to our investigation are diachronic and transcultural filiations within visual culture in the ‚longue durée‘of lusophone Africa. These images are part of visual memory cultures and are enmeshed in thriving political-social movements and recent medial transformations. Our research firstly focuses on Mozambique, particularly because of the foundation of „Instituto Nacional de Cinema“ right after independence in 1975; established in order to produce and promote ‚homemade‘ images for Mozambicans; and conceptualized as a contrast to colonial imageries. Furthermore, Mozambique as part of the „socialist international“ formed an integral part of political dynamics (eg in Algeria, Angola, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau), which found its expression in the iconographies of the time. This internationalism, both ideological and factual, resulted in references and relations which reach beyond Africa as a continent (and connect with, eg, Cuba, GDR, Chile). Contemporary visions of futures seem to meander between political-economic pragmatism and nostalgic utopias and evoke the question of actual ‘originality’. The core question here is the negotiation of recent and historical imaginations of future in iconographies of revolutions; and the investigation of visual archives. The research is located at the triangle of fine arts, film and virtual imageries in digital media such as the internet. “Revolution 3.0” is one of the five research projects of the interdisciplinary Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies.

Picture: © Nayko – http://www.redbubble.com/people/nayko

Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies

Founded in October 2012 and inaugurated in a festive event on December 3rd, 2012, the “Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies” will expand the horizon of the well-established field of African Studies at this University at international, national and local levels. Across a broad range of disciplines, it will open dialogues with other Area Studies as well as with fields of research dedicated to ‘systematic’ (i.e. non-regional) approaches. Thus, in its first phase (2012-2016), the Bayreuth Academy will fathom concepts of the future emerging from Africa and its diasporas from different academic perspectives. An essential concern is to engage in general debates about the concept of ‘future’ through insights gained from regional research, notably African Studies. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this project and the setting up of its institutional structures during the next four years.

Future – Concepts