The Meeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations and other works
by Senam Okudzeto
I had the pleasure to see Senams latest works and want to share it with all of you. Most of the pieces are very very fragile and delicate. She is showing during Art Basel on SATURDAY between 12 and 5 pm at Projektraum Bollag at Gärtnerstrasse 50 4057 Basel. Otherwise she is showing by appointment only. In case you want to see her work, and can not come on Saturday, please email her to senam.info (@) gmail.com
Senam Okudzeto works with a wide range of media, including social sculpture, installation, painting, film, and text in her methodological “Afro-Dada” practice; an ongoing exploration of material culture which presents unexpected juxtapositions of objects and images in the context of West Africa’s modernist narratives and her fluid identity as an African who is of European of U.S. American descent.
The Meeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations
The Meeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations (2016–2017), is to be read as a complex and articulate system relating specifically to the artist’s experience of being in Rome for a year-long fellowship at the American Academy. This work is a part of her ongoing “Afro-Dada Glossolalia” project, and contemplates the question of what might be left of the soul of a being, and also of an object, as it travels through time, space and changing cultural contexts
The piece contains a number of references, ranging from the paintings of Caravaggio through to early Byzantine readings of crystal and the preponderance of “carciofi” in everyday Roman life. The video component depicts the annual Pentecost service at the Pantheon church in Rome, which ends with the congregation being showered in rose petals, which are scattered through the iconic oculus of the building. The petals metaphorically reference the “gifts of spirit”- speaking in tongues that Pentecost celebrates, but the ceremony’s origins predate Christianity to early pagan Rosalia festivals.
Okudzeto’s work attempts a powerful mapping system; derived from the idea that memory, time, space and distance could be described through objects as a series of encounters with events. This work takes its departure point from an earlier multi-media installation; Portes-Oranges, (2003-2007) and is a re-working of a previous installation of TheMeeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations (2016), which was shown at the American Academy in Rome at the exhibition Cinque Mostre (2016).
The Meeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations
Senam Okudzeto (b. 1972, Chicago) lives and works between Basel, London and Accra. Okudzeto has a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (1995), and a Masters degree in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London, (1997). She completed the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000) and is a PhD candidate in the program of Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Her work was featured at Dada Afrika, Museum Rietberg (2016), the 14th Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul Modern (2015), the Menil Collection, Houston, (2012), the ICA, Boston (2011), the Stedlejik Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2011), PS1 MoMA (2007), Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (2005); and Freestyle, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001).
Okudzeto has published numerous peer reviewed essays and texts in publications such as the Journal of Atlantic Studies (Routledge, 2012), Grey Room (Spring 2008) and Art Journal (2009). She was the first artist to serve on the editorial board of the CAA publication Art Journal and has taught academic and fine arts courses in Europe, the USA and West Africa, including the Kunsthistorisches Seminar, University of Basel, The International Summer Academy, Salzburg, NYU Study abroad campus, Accra, CCA Lagos and the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Basel. She is the founder and director of Art in Social Structures (AiSS), an artist-led NGO that supports education and heritage initiatives in architecture, visual culture and the arts in Ghana.
Okudzeto is the recipient of several fellowships and awards including, a research fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2003 – 2004) and the Edith Bloom/Jesse Howard Junior Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (2015 – 2016).
The Meeting of Light and Earthly Gravitations (2016), and other works
Hand-blown lead crystal, leather, UV glue, iron sculptures, oranges, wood, electric cables, gaffer tape, metal post card rack, acrylic ink drawings on paper, metal ladder, foam, LED light bulbs and lamps, video; 3:48 mins, (NTSC) 4:3, (loop).