Saman Archive is an archive of photographic negatives collected across Ghana since 2015. The project was initiated by Design Anthropologist, Curator, and Writer Adjoa Armah. The word ‘saman‘ is an Akan word sometimes used to colloquially refer to the photographic negative, it can be translated as ‘ghost’ in English. Containing approximately 30,000 images spanning from 1963 to the 2000s, the archive is the basis for Adjoa’s Ph.D. research; entitled, ‘Making Saman Archive – Curating Contact Through the Photographic Practices of Ghana’. This project is being conducted within the Curating Contemporary Art programme in the Royal College of Arts’ School of Arts and Humanities.
Saman Archive will launch a Residency Programme today with the Inaugural Exhibition Wontumi Ntaaki.
Wontumi Ntaaki is an Akan expression meaning “you can’t tackle him/her”, or more accurately translated “you can’t tackle”, him, her, them, us or me implied, Wontumi Ntaaki encapsulates the typical relationship between dress, self-assertion, the photographic moment and the Ghanaian photo studio. Wontumni Ntaaki is a takeover of an Accra private movie house. Spaces loaded with connotations of sexual impropriety, their rooms are known to be used by both couples and sex workers in search of a few hours of affordable privacy. This will function as a framing device for the Wontumi Ntaaki residency programme in lens-based practice and performance initiated by Saman Archive.
It’ll introduce the residencies concerns with a programme of moving image, installation, and performances that address the boundaries between public posturing and private concealment, what one shows the world and doesn’t, the stories we do and don’t tell about ourselves, what we can assert and what we must repress. It considers issues of obligation, concealment, secrecy, privacy, that which is not immediately transparent, and that which we all know intuitively but struggles to articulate, which have emerged through Saman Archives research. This will set the tone for the residencies by presenting work being produced on the continent and beyond that opens up the conversations around these issues with a focus on African lives and the black experience more broadly.
. 33 Bound . Katja Abedian . Josef Adamu . Nana Baffour Awuah . crazinisTartisT . Donald Crunk . Akinola Davies Jr . Rhea Dillon . Wojtek Doroszuk . Samuel Douek . . Jordan Hemmingway . Iggy LDN . Stephen Isaac–Wilson . Seye Isikalu . Adeyemi Michael . Chukwuka Nwobi . Dafe Oboro . Harley Weir .
About Wontumni Ntaaki residency.
Wontumi Ntaaki is an Accra-based residency programme, initiated by Saman Archive, aimed at exploring the role of the camera in African life.
“Wontumi Ntaaki aims to complicate our understanding of the ubiquitous vernacular practices present in Saman Archive and inherited by young artists of the continent and diaspora. These practices and imagery are found plastered across our mood boards and treatments, as well as in our family albums, while so often their full stories cannot be known and, apart from a handful of well-known photographers, the authorship remains unknown or minimized“, Adjoa Armah shares.