The works in the Genesis series mark the beginning of the artists exploration into her personal history. The series was sparked by the discovery of a photo of her great grandmother, Ama Ammissah Quansah, dating back to 1920 in British Gold Coast (now Ghana). The discovery led to an obsession with the image and Damoah has used it multiple times in various works including The Rebirth of Ama (2018) which is featured in this series of work. The same image sparked a desire to discover more about the history of colonialism and the relationship between the colonised and the coloniser. The bible page works in the series prompted the artist to start to consider the relationship between Christianity, spirituality and colonialism. Of the body print works in the series, the artist said,
“Black and gold have been used both for aesthetic and metaphorical reasons. Black is evoking skin colour, but also absence as a lived experience. Meanwhile, gold is referring to Ghana’s historical source of wealth which gave it its colonial name (Gold Coast).”
The Genesis series of work ultimately led to the development of the artists ongoing project Confronting Colonisation, with its first iteration being “Into the Mind of the Coloniser” performed in 2019 with Open Space Contemporary in London, Rafiki Arts in Oslo and Fridman Gallery in New York.
Works in the Genesis series are importantly titled after Ghanaian proverbs with the translation of the twi in English in order to further tie the work to the artist’s heritage.
Background. Retracing Her Roots
As a descendant of Ghanaian parents, Adelaide Damoah has always had a particular interest in colonial history and knew that eventually she would explore the relationship between Ghana and Britain in her work.
In 2016, she traveled to Ghana looking for old photographs from the colonial era of her family. This is when she found a very powerful image of her maternal great grandmother which was taken in 1920, when Ghana was the British Gold Coast. It was then she knew that this image would be the anchor to form the basis of her exploration. She began by using various image transfer techniques on body prints and combining it with text, with no certainty as to where the use of the image would lead in works such as Great Angel Mother, 2016 and Great Angel Golden Mother, 2016 and progressed to You Should Learn to Speak the Language, 2017 and My Dad thinks I am Honest, 2017 and most recently The Rebirth of Ama, 2018.