Unravelled Threads | Questioning culture and identity
By Joy Kitheka
Originally published on TribalCalling.com
Detail: a short article on the latest collection by German-Ghanaian artist, Zohra Opoku
Zohra Opoku – a German-Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist – explores her cultural identity in her latest collection, Unravelled Threads, which debuted in March this year.
Growing up in Germany without much knowledge of her Ghanaian heritage, Zohra explores what it means to be an African using the kente cloth, a traditional Ghanian fabric. Her collection consists of blurred images of her family, most notably her father, printed onto the kente fabric. The traditional cloth serves as a literal thread, connecting her to her family, her Ghanaian ancestry but most importantly, her father – whom she only knew for a short while before he passed away.
Based in Accra, Ghana, since 2011, Zohra often depicts textiles in dissimilar cultures and spaces, strategically integrating her own layered lineage through the use of both German and African materials, as well as motifs. Through these methods, she reflects on her own cultural identity, deliberately marrying African and Western fabrics with natural elements in her continuous exploration of self. In her self-portraits, the use of plants, fruits, flowers and foliage, that partially conceal her face make for an enigmatic air. The images may be obscured, but the profound probing of her identity is evident.
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In 2016, her work was featured in multiple group shows at Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands; Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Spain; the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, USA; and MOMO Cape Town, South Africa, where she gained high praise. She also featured in solo shows at Gallery 1957 in her home town Accra, Ghana, as well as Kruger Gallery in Chicago, USA, amongst others.
Zohra is currently featuring at Matylda Krzykowski’s, “Room with Its Own Rules,” at Chamber Gallery in New York, from 4 May – 15 July. The show is dedicated to Kryzykowski’s encounters with various strong women who define their own principles of life and work, including the eclectic Zohra Opoku.