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SBF Personal: Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah


© Akosua Victoria. Parents. Inheritance - Poems of Non-Belonging, 2023 (lab view).

Akosua (1990) is a German-Ghanaian artist living in Zurich. She studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar from 2009 to 2015, specialising in artistic photography. Although she did not attend a classical photography class there, she still spent most of her study time in the darkroom.

Today, Akosua devotes herself to photography and its border areas. Central to her work is the materiality of the medium.
Since 2012, her works have been regularly represented in international exhibitions and have received several awards. Most recently, the artist received the Louis Roederer Art Prize (2022), the Prix d'Art Robert Schuman (2021) and the Prix Photoforum (2020). Akosua tells the SBF editorial team about her diverse photographic and geographical experiences.
What sparked your interest in photography? It was then the escape from painting to the darkroom that brought me to photography. There, too, I could make pictures with organic materials. That was the beginning of it all.
What distinguishes your photography from the pictures of other photographers? Probably my time-intensive working process, which allows a lot of room for the creation of images that only come about that way. I work out my works in the colour darkroom and make large-format C-prints by hand. In addition, I almost never work on commission. That gives me a lot of freedom in image processing.
What are your focal points? Categories like portrait, landscape or reportage don't really fit for me. I work mainly on long-term projects, combining conceptual, artistic photography with documentary and research-based methods. 
Do you have any examples of this? "Behold The Ocean" is the project I realised on two expeditions in southern Patagonia (see question below, red.). The project "Inheritance-Poems of Non-Belonging" is about the spectrum between black and white in the context of ethnicity, but also about hard, historical contrasts. "Resilience" was a silent, photographic work in which I documented my father for a year before his unexpected death. 
How do you choose your subjects? Differently. Sometimes certain questions accompany me, from which a larger work develops. A subject close to my heart was race riding, as I used to work professionally in this field. I wanted to know if there are race riders in Ghana, and if so, how they work. I found a jockey in Accra through social media. I visited him and the story was published in National Geographic.
You were in Southern Patagonia in 2020 & 2022 on the expeditions I mentioned. How did you work on the ship? On the first expedition I didn't know what to expect. I had never been on such a ship and so far south. I photographed a lot of material that I wanted to use for documentary and science communication purposes, but also for a book and an exhibition. On the second expedition, I already knew the circumstances and knew that I wanted to concentrate on my free work. Currently I am editing the recordings. The work is not very documentary, big, raw, organic and uncompromising, partly also experimental and analogue.
What challenges did you face? On the one hand, it was the ship. The irony is that we were in the midst of these vast landscapes and yet trapped on the small ship. I always had my Mamiya 645, my Canon A1 and AE1 around my neck at the same time, and on the first trip, a Sony full frame as I was working on a film at the same time. It was a particular challenge to get the drone on deck of a moving ship in the strong wind without cutting my fingers. There are cables everywhere on deck that the thing could get caught in. 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Realistically, I can't look that far ahead. The technological and curatorial landscape will be different in 2033. I hope to still be developing good projects and making a living from my freelance work by then. 


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