May 9 –
July 27, 2019
Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle

Opening reception: Thursday, May 9, 6:30-8:30pm

Akosua Adoma Owusu’s work addresses a collision of identities, where the African immigrant located in the United States has a "triple consciousness." Expanding W.E.B. Du Bois’s notion of double consciousness, Owusu creates a third cinematic space representing the diverse identities of African immigrants interacting in African, white American, and Black American culture. Although the internal pressures and external conflicts associated with double consciousness persist in Owusu’s work, she integrates what Du Bois excludes—feminism, queerness, immigrant consciousnesses, and all their intersections.

At the heart of many of Owusu’s works is the fraught relationship between beauty and power. Black hair culture as an art form in postcolonial Ghana, manifestations of racial capitalism in the beauty industry, and colorism are frequent topics. Of particular interest are the ways in which the ideology of beauty centers whiteness and functions as a hegemonic system of control. Owusu illustrates the Black trauma that is a consequence of white standards of beauty through a manipulation of film and a use of imagery and sound that seem incongruous, while pointing to the absurdity of these power structures.

Blackness is fundamentally entangled with loss, displacement, and memory; it is a manifold existence. At the root of what Owusu identifies as her “warring consciousness” is the anxiety that she is too Ghanaian for America, and too American for Ghana. A life lived on two cracked halves, in constant search of a land she can actually call her own.

(...continue reading).

On Monday, May 6, REDCAT presents a program and screening of recent and past films with the artist.

On Saturday, May 11, a screening and conversation with the artist and Leila Weefur takes place at YBCA.

Akosua Adoma Owusu (b. 1984) lives and works in New York City.

Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle is curated by Kim Nguyen and organized by Leila Grothe. The exhibition is made possible thanks to generous support from The Westridge Foundation. The artist thanks Dennis Lim, Kari Rae Seekins, Nathan Ruyle, Laida Lertxundi, Dylan Bowman, and Eliza Hittman.
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "Split Ends I Feel Wonderful" [film still] (2012)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "Split Ends I Feel Wonderful" [film still] (2012)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "Me Broni Ba" [film still] (2009)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "Me Broni Ba" [film still] (2009)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "White Afro" [film still] (2019)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, "White Afro" [film still] (2019)