By John Owoo
Following the 4th World Conference on Women, which was held in the Chinese capital Beijing (1995), a number of organizations and individuals have moved into action on issues relating to equality of women and their contributions to development and peace.
In Ghana, Nana Kofi Acquah, a suave world travelled photographer has kept the objectives of the conference alive with a crusade that has unearthed women in diverse circumstances through the power of imagery.
One of a few artists who have tirelessly ensured the dynamism and development of photography in Ghana, his photos are masked by protests, replete with criticism, veiled in hope and celebration and characterized by subtle confrontation.
Acquah’s work, which is currently on display at the Alliance Française in Accra, show him as master craftsman with images that effectively capture cultural values, emotion, achievement and resilience while commenting on stereotyping.
Titled “Don’t Call Me Beautiful”, the exhibition provides a factual account of the situation of the African woman – victories, woes, achievements, hopes, distress – and most importantly – how she gracefully braces herself and handles them.
Also known as the African Male Feminist, he goes beyond mere documentation – indeed his pictures reveal a particular attention to detail alongside intense emotions and broad conceptualized planes of colour, which reached extremes in images like “Women of Power” and “Cashew Nut Girls”.
Yet another photo (Sirigu Grandmother) of an aged woman recall the old tradition of body painting while unearthing a set of eyes that gaze at the viewer with wisdom, pain, sorrow, joy, courage, despair, confidence and experience.
Undeniably, cohesiveness and singularity in his work are quite phenomenal – although they appear simple, his photos are complex and intellectually detailed as they radiate an atmosphere of active calm and subtle agitation.
With a remarkable use of light, Acquah who is noted as a torchbearer in the repositioning of Africa through photography has managed to place the spotlight on women not only through exhibitions but also interviews and crusades in the media.
The exhibition ends on Wednesday March 9.