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Senam Okudzeto’s Long Distance Lover Exhibition Featured at Danna Center Gallery

Loyola press release - August 16, 2000

(New Orleans)—Visiting Artist Senam Okudzeto’s work will be featured at Loyola University New Orleans’ Danna Center Gallery from August 21 - September 20, 2000. The gallery is located on the university’s main campus at 6363 St. Charles Avenue.

Okudzeto will present a lecture about her work on September 20, 2000 at 7 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Okudzeto works subtly, passionately, and vigorously in various media. Her work is ruffling feathers in London, New York, Chicago and New Orleans. She has just been nominated Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Long Distance Lover is a biographical work which addresses, amongst so many other things, the question of positionality in identity. It insists that this question is open, shared and difficult. It names the body as the site at which that identity is played out. It insists that the space of the body is socialized, always in context, layered by histories personal and international.

In this piece she deploys ink, acrylic, phone bills, books, and computer-generated water colors in space and time. She points out how this space is peopled not only externally by the viewer, but also internally by reference to biography, geography and cultural specificity.

All of these elements are used to contextualize representations of the body.

The bodies fight with one another. Their self is made manifest, their insides fly. They box. They wrestle. They cause the viewer to negotiate. We are obliged to negotiate not with the bodies depicted but with ourselves - with our consciences, our libidos and our identities.

The figures are female. They are shadows. They may be black. They are powerful, sensual, self-destructive. They find themselves struggling within the automated grid of an itemized telephone bill. The numbers, times and places of the calls add to the narrative.

They achieve this not by elucidating the bodies depicted but by positioning the maker, positioning her within the ‘black triangle’. Africa, Britain, and the USA may be considered the three corners of the diaspora. The love affair falls with these three corners. The lovers remain unnamed.

The phone bills are computer generated, a matrix which supports the handcrafted figures, holding them, refusing resolution or escape. The large water color pieces further complicate our assumptions about the position of the artist and her hand. These are works within the western tradition of the nude. Their medium is delicate, genteel, archaic. And they are unlocked from cyberspace. Printed in watercolor by machine onto handmade paper.

One final element in this installation should help confirm our confused self realization. Senam has included footnotes. They are in their proper place. Abject, yet obtrusive. On the floor. The post modern condition, the multiple, the parallel, the unresolved here remains just that. We are offered theoretical writings about love, economic geographies and painting. These writings do not explain the work. They are not written about the work.

But for those who trip over them, they may help to solidify the confusions so strongly proposed by this post-modern, post-feminist, post-colonial installation.

Danna Center Gallery Hours: Monday - Sunday 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Exhibition curated by : Dr. S. Hunter, Department of Visual Arts.
With special thanks to : Carol Leake, Chair, Department of Visual Arts