[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Adora Mba features British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové in True Africa. Having grown up between Europe and the Caribbean, the artist identifies with the push and pull between the two cultures. He says, “‘There is an incredible resistance art that takes place … The Caribbean were resisting the tides of change that was being enforced from other countries, for example the United States. If you don’t stand up for your own culture, in the end you become secondary car park attendants in a back lot to the Americas.” Here are excerpts of the article/interview (and a splendid array of photos):
Zak [Ové] has established his career in the contemporary art world over the last 15 years by working in film, sculpture and photography. Showing internationally, his works have part of prestigious fairs such as Art Basel and the Venice Biennale.
Although he is most certainly an original and proud north-west ‘London Boi’, his works reflect both his Trinidadian and British upbringing as well as paying tribute to African cultural and spiritual identity. There is nothing quite like stepping into the personal space of an artist. It is very much like being allowed to enter their private mind and see the way their mind works. This is evident in his home. It is an explosion of colours, statues, installations and photography; a combination of the vibrancy and richness of the continent and its diaspora with a touch of British history.
Beautiful, bold pieces hang from his walls in every single room and it feels like you’ve stepped into a wonderland where you find all sorts of artistic surprises: adapted turntables a la Ové with masked faces, animal skulls, Invisible Men scattered about, spray paint cans, photographs of his past life, works by his father, lobsters, chickens and various animals, spiritual artefacts, animal skin rugs, black dolls, skateboards, a Hassan Hajjaj piece or two – welcome to the House of Ové!
Zak is the son of Black-British filmmaker Horace Ové and worked as his assistant for years. You can tell that Zak is very proud of his father. Horace Ové immigrated to Britain in the 1960s, a point at which many West Indians were moving over. His father was one of the few people responsible for documenting what it felt to be black in Britain, going beyond his own experience as a Caribbean immigrant. He worked with some of the greats of the time such as American novelist and social critic James Baldwin, black filmmakers and even with the BBC for the documentary he directed, Skateboard Kings in 1978. [. . .]
Having grown up between Europe and the Caribbean, he identified with the push and pull between the two cultures. ‘There is an incredible resistance art that takes place … The Caribbean were resisting the tides of change that was being enforced from other countries, for example the United States. If you don’t stand up for your own culture, in the end you become secondary car park attendants in a back lot to the Americas.’
The cultural imperialist movement from across the seas has influenced many aspects of black art, music, tradition and life. So it remains critical that art and old world African traditions continue to define culture – and that new materials and new technologies allow artists to, as Zak Ové says, ‘develop a nuance in the language that keeps that timeline alive. [. . .]