Zohra Opoku, ‘I am the one who shines, the one who is above the district of the sky. I go forth to the sky. I climb upon the sun’s rays. O, I am weary, I am weary, (yet) I proceed.’, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim.
Mariane Ibrahim is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Zohra Opoku entitled, I Have Arisen...Part 2, the artists first show in Paris, on view from March 24th to June 3rd, 2023. The exhibition will unveil the continuation of her series The Myths of Eternal Life, following the debut show in Chicago in 2022, Part 1.
In the chapters of The Myths of Eternal Life, Zohra is a curator of memory, where she makes literal, material. She is interested in stitching the past into the present, such as rendering the contours of a series of carved faces in thread next to a screen-printed, photographed collage of the stone originals so we no longer know which one is artifact or reference.
The Myths of Eternal Life borrows its structure and its language from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, an ancient text which provides instruction of preparation for the afterlife. The pearled brass pieces scattered through these works represent her, melted down and carried on the wind, where, inevitably, she becomes suspended in bare tree branches, or settles over the screenprint of her face in profile, adorning her past embodiments with their eventual, godly manifestations; marking herself for eternal life.
In the Book of the Dead, ba is the name given to the human-headed bird that a person’s spirit would take the form of once they had passed on. It is in a similar form that Zohra appears in a work whose title begins “Maat is in my belly with the turquoise and faience of its monthly festival,” where she is winged and ghostly and, perhaps, ba, or perhaps a God of her own choosing, or her own mother, who she tells me often dreams of flying.
Zohra’s most common movement is towards resistance: resistance of linearity, resistance of simplicity, resistance of the confines of embodiment and mortality. Another passage she references from the Book of the Dead begins “I give my mouth to myself (so that) I may speak with it in the presence of the gods of the Duat.” Above all, this is the work of the Myths of Eternal Life, for Zohra to gift herself a voice that can speak her wholeness into existence in this life, the past life and the next.
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