Adjoa Armah is an artist, writer, curator, and educator with a background in material anthropology and design. Based between London and Accra, her practice is concerned with the entanglement between narrative form, archival practice, mapping and spatial consciousness, pedagogy, Black ontology, ethnology, and the political. In 2015 she founded Saman, an archive of photographic negatives gathered across Ghana, Adjoa explores what it might mean to dwell in an archive otherwise, as praxis and an extension of the epistemological horizons in imagination. She is currently developing In our language the word for the sea means “the spirit that returns“, a spiritual mapping of the forts lining the Ghanaian coast, with support from Graham Foundation. In 2019 she was inaugural writer-in-residence at Afterall journal, in 2020 she was artist in residence at Gasworks, in 2021 she was received a SPACE Studio Artist Award.
She is a Critical Studies associate lecturer in the Fine Art programme at Central Saint Martins and has been a visiting lecturer across fine art, design, and spatial practice programmes in institutions including University of Oxford, Royal College of Art, University of Arts London, University of Westminster, and Geneva University of Art and Design. She is also a researcher at Afterall where she is developing Black Atlantic Museum, a Paul Mellon Centre funded transversal digital mapping of black British art history and socio-political movement, and oversees the programming of Afterall Art School, a space for visual, textual, and discursive projects engaging with the current crisis of labour, access, and aesthetics, developed collaboratively between Afterall, Central Saint Martins, and Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
For the Archipelagoes in Reverse Research Network public programme, Adjoa will focus on a chapter of a long term project titled ‘In our language the word for the sea means the spirit that returns’. For this Adjoa responds to black thought of the New World, African historiography, spatial consciousness, the relationship between indigeneity and Blackness in Africa, and the notion of “return” in African time consciousness and Akan philosophy. These ideas are explored through a mapping of the slave forts, combining this mapping with ethnographic, historical, and spiritual explorations of these sites and routes between them. Tentatively titled: Jonkonnu, Jankunu, Junkanoo, John Canoe, January Conny. Her chapter responds to work on masquerade, indigenisation, and cultural resistance in Jamaica from the Ghanaian coast. Through this response, Adjoa hopes to trace some of the resonances between the folk traditions of this region and of the Caribbean, entangled with the telling of the story of a particular historical figure, an Ahanta chief and warrior who held Fort Fredericksburg against the British for nearly 20 years in the early eighteenth century, whose name is used for many masquerades across the English speaking Caribbean.