Adelaide Damoah RWA, FRSA
‘All of my performances have at their core the principle of Sankofa- ancient Akan (Ghanaian) idea which tells us to learn from our past in order to live a better present and future.’
British-Ghanaian artist Adelaide Damoah works at the intersection of painting and performance within the context of colonialism, identity, sexuality and spirituality. After studying applied biology (BA Hons, Kingston University, Surrey, her subsequent career in the pharmaceutical industry was cut short following a diagnosis of debilitating chronic endometriosis. While convalescing, she dedicated herself to art.
Since her debut exhibition ‘Black Brits’ in 2006 (Charlie Allen’s Boutique, London, UK), Damoah has exhibited in myriad group shows including Opera Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (2009); Bargehouse Gallery, London (2015) as part of the AACDD Festival; ‘A Seat at the Table’, 198 Gallery, London, ‘Dispersed’, Nubuke Foundation (+Chale Wote), Ghana; UNFOLD Festival, London; Article 10, Amnesty International, London, ACDF Festival, Lagos, Nigeria, and in 2018 at ‘We Face Forward’ Bonhams, London, Little Africa Des Gosses, Marrakesh, (Off the Tracks) as part of an artist residency. In 2019, Damoah was selected for ‘No Room for Fear’ with SMO Contemporary, BBFA Collective and Smithsonian in London, ‘Under the Skin’ (Royal College of Physicians Museum, London), and ArtX Lagos with Tafeta Gallery.
She has performed internationally including her ongoing ‘Confronting Colonisation’ project, ‘#MYFACE’ Visual Diet, Cannes Lions Festival, Cannes, ‘This is Me: The Inconsistency of the Self II’ Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris, Adidas ‘Calling all Creators’ performance Portland Oregon, USA. Past solo exhibitions include ‘Supermodels’, Nolia’s Gallery, London (2008); ‘Domestic Violence’, Mayfair, London (2009); ‘This is Us’, Camden Image Gallery, London (2015) and ‘Genesis’, 1 Bedford Avenue, London (2018).
Damoah has works in private collections nationally and internationally. She is a member of the BBFA Collective which is represented by Tafeta Gallery, London. In 2019, Damoah became the first black artist to be appointed an academician of the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) and was an invited artist and selector at their open exhibition in Bristol.
I am interested in generating a spontaneous communi(cati)on between myself and an audience using a performance in which I function as a channel by which a recorded history of what was previously known but became unknown in the past becomes uncannily known again in the present, only to become unknown again at the end of the performance. Each of my performances is a mythopoetic product of organic processes which depend not only on the different modes of sensory perception of my body of unambiguous (i.e. explicit and literal) and ambiguous (i.e. implicit and metaphorical) processes and events taking place in my multisensory perceptions of the sensible world; but also on the individual (mental and bodily sensory) and collective (cultural) memory-images I derive from both these different modes of perception and my diasporic experiences.
My processes of production of such a mythopoetic artwork may be conceived in terms of a life-cycle in which the ‘ancestral life’ of a recorded history that was previously unknown – and therefore ‘alien’ – to me and the audience becomes known via the artwork, only to become unknown again at the end of the performance.
I use my artworks to explore the unstable boundary distinctions between my human ‘subjective self’ and the non-human ‘objective other’ materials of nature with which I conjointly produce such artworks. An attendee of one of my performances may experience both an enhanced/impaired distinction between his/her ‘self’ and the ancestral life of the ‘other’ in a (sub)liminal ‘zone’ of perception that was previously forbidden to him/her, and attribute unambiguous and ambiguous meanings to this ‘other’ life.