Adjoa Armah at fluent

Artist: Adjoa Armah

Exhibition title: <◯><◯> (or less than living more than less than living more than)

Venue: fluent, Santander, Spain

Date: October 15 – December 31, 2022

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and fluent, Santander

Note: Exhibition floor plan is available here

fluent is pleased to present <><> (or less than living more than less than living more than), a commissioned solo exhibition by Adjoa Armah where she uses the gallery space to explore an interest in how we may develop a Black historiography in relation with the temporal consciousness of sand. The display invites the public to engage with questions that have arisen out of long–term research into how materials witness life, how they can support the (re)telling of historical events, and how the reality of a place is equally defined by what happens there and what is imposed upon it from elsewhere.

The commission began with a recycled glass (three)hourglass using sand from Cape Three Points, Ghana. Referred to as the place on land closest to “nowhere”, which is a location at sea known as Null Island (0°N 0°E), Cape Three Points has 4 European-built forts within a 20 km radius and is a site from which we can reflect on the history of European presence on the African continent. In working with sand from historically and geospatially significant beaches, which Armah understands as “marginalia, a footnote to the essay that is the ocean.”[1], she attends to the Atlantic as a racialized space from its margins. The central hourglass is put into correspondence with a series of objects which, navigating the space counterclockwise, appear as a bench covered by sand (“despite the pain, she still loved and loves.”), a text and image supporting a quartz and sand display (“nowhere is never somewhere you get to one way.”), and a charcoal, shell, and salt composition (this border won’t contain). These objects have been choreographed for the body to confront a material cosmology where notions of time, cyclicality, scale and transformation reveal a series of wider questions about the construction of race and its historical, epistemological, and narrative entanglements.

Throughout the duration of the show, a series of responses from thinkers invited by Armah as part of a living form of research will configure a public program expanding from the exhibition’s body of research.

Adjoa Armah is an artist, educator, writer and editor with a background in design anthropology. Her practice is concerned with narrative, the archive, pedagogy, black ontology and spatial consciousness. She is founder of Saman Archive, a gathering of photographic negatives encountered across Ghana, through which she explores models of institution building grounded in Akan temporalities and West African technologies of social and historical mediation. She is editor and research fellow at Afterall and a practice-led DPhil researcher in Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford with a project provisionally titled; ‘Meeting Saman: On Study with Narrative posture and -graphy in/as Archival Methodology’.

[1] Plastiglomerate – Journal #78 December 2016 – e-flux