Originally from Ghana, Nana Kofi Acquah is a multidisciplinary artist. Centred on the reposition of the African continent’s discourse and imagery, the award-winning photographer is also a poet, a painter, a blogger, a journalist but first and foremost an activist.
“I grew up on stories. Now, I am a storyteller who uses the camera as his favourite medium”
“I hope that at the end of my career when I will finally drop my camera, I would have contributed to help the world see Africa properly”
What is striking from Acquah’s work is its diversity. Most of his art focuses on photography documentary; especially in his series ‘Ghana – Life is a beach’, ‘Inequality’, ‘Five Dry Months’, ‘Harvest’ among many others. One of his collection ‘Net Girls’ seems to approach the subject-matter in a fictional, colourful and creative manner – highlighting a prominent difference from his other works. In this specific collection, the artist captures the “What-if moment” of street hawkers selling bathing nets and from them create couture-like apparel.
What is also striking in the breath-taking range of Nana Kofi Acquah activist photography - from remarkable documentary to sublime art composition – is its specific attention to a feminist depiction of Africa. The artist shows a profound sensibility for the portrayal of women, their struggles, and fights against gender violence.
“I come from a matriarchal society.Women in my part of the world are very strong. They make the key decisions. We say that a child gets the soul of their father, but they belong to the mother”
Today’s situation in Ghana for women offers a mixed picture. While equality between men and women is upheld by the law and an increasing number of women access the labour market, discrimination and violence are still widespread – especially in remote areas of the country.According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), sexual violence, exploitation, the unequal division of domestic work persist and build a glass-ceiling on women’s ambitions. At least 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence whereas almost 750 millions of girls have been married before their 18th birthday.
These issues are powerfully conveyed in Nana Kofi Acquah’s works:
“Feminism is a fight that I have been privileged to be a part of and I will always try to push forward women’s rights with my work. I am very proud to be identified as a feminist”.
Eminent traveller, the artist does not limit his work to the national borders of Ghana but rather extend his focus to Africa as a whole. Especially, in his collection entitled “Mali - Fistula”,the photographer presents a collection of pictures centred around childbirth ,injury, woman suffering and forced marriage – especially centred on obstetric fistula.
Nana Kofi Acquah is a shining hope among other engaged African photographers putting the camera to the service of people in need for visibility. Lending his art to great societal and cultural changes, the artist illustrates a deep-rooted activism both for Women’s rights and for Africa as a whole.
© Nana Kofi Acquah - ‘Net Girls’Collection
© Nana Kofi Acquah – ‘Mali – Fistula’ Collection
Nana Kofi Acquah on picturing Africa: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=crdz6dwClZM&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=VOAPictureAfrica
Nana Kofi Acquah on Instagram: @africashowboy