(selected by Claire Doherty)
Four Ways to Feel Amazing, 2002
London-based artist Harold Offeh employs a range of strategies, including found footage and deceptively simple performance-based videos, to assess contemporary popular media representations of race, identity and desire. His interest in video stems from his research into early video practitioners such as Vito Acconci, William Wegman, Bruce Nauman, Adrian Piper and Martha Rosler, all of whom used the medium to explore the body, space, race and gender as well as the relationship between addresser and addressee.
'Being Mammy', 2004, a video and performance work was an attempt to explore the world of the 'Mammy' caricature and evoke the tragedy of the type-cast actor doomed to recreate and replay the same role. Offeh worked with resources from the Bill Douglas Centre at the University of Exeter, where he examined the life and career of actress Hattie McDaniel, who famously played and won an Oscar for her role as 'Mammy' in Gone With the Wind.
Humour is an important tool for Offeh. One work which uses humour to allow the audience to unravel complex relationships is the video projection 'Alien Communication', 1999, in which the Ghanaian born artist distorted his features. Using a variety of lenses, Offeh magnified his eyes, lips and teeth to monstrous proportions.
'Haroldinho', 2003 charts Offeh's site-specific performances in Rio de Janeiro during a two-month residency in the city in 2003. Haroldinho ('little Harold') is a persona created and performed by Offeh. Dressed in a blue utilitarian uniform decorated with sequins and glitter, Haroldinho dances the samba in the citys famous tourists spots. Soliciting and activating the spectator's preconceived notions of Brazil through his use of dance, samba music and the site specificity of his performances, Offeh acts to question the validity of these things as national signifiers.
Since completing an MA in Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art in 2001 Offeh (b. 1977, Ghana) has exhibited nationally and internationally, participating in group shows at Camden Arts Centre, London, the ICA, London (Beck's Futures), and the Baltic Sea Arts Centre Gdansk, Poland.
Recent solo exhibitions include Peripheral Visions, Cork Film Centre, 2005, Haroldinho, Gimpel Fils, London, 2005, Being Mammy, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, 2004, and Carioqinha/TV Dinners (with Lisa Cheung), Rio de Janeiro, 2003. Group exhibitions include The Limits of Inclusiveness, East Centre for Urban Culture, Amsterdam, 2005 and Risk, CCA Glasgow, 2005.
Go to inIVA archive for more images.
Anthems, Offeh's most recent project, is a database of individuals or groups of people attempting to sing their own national anthems, and attempts to deconstruct some of the absurdities of these... read on
'Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn't I'd be making $7 a week actually being one.' (Hattie McDaniel). 'Being Mammy' is an attempt explore the world of the Mammy... read on
Review: The Translator's Notes
The role played by silence in verbal expression clearly has its equivalent in visual expression. The significance of that which goes unspoken is parallel to that which goes unshown. And what is... read on
'Veil, a show consisting mainly of lens-based work, used images of veiling and unveiling to tease out some of those cliches around cultural difference and to refine, question or overturn them. In some... read on
'Haroldinho', 'little Harold', is a persona created and performed by Offeh in response to his experiences of Rio de Janeiro during a two-month residency in the city. Dressed in a blue utilitarian... read on
Juncture was a ground-breaking exhibition of British and South African (SA) video and installation artists curated by Robyn Denys and Frences Goodman in Cape Town, February 2001. Featuring Berni... read on