Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Nana Oforiatta Ayim is an award-winning writer and film-maker. She is the founder and director of the cultural research organisation, ANO, in Ghana.
After writing extensively on contemporary African arts and creating numerous research and exhibition projects internationally, she established ANO as a permanent centre in Ghana in 2012. In 2016, she created the online version of the pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia, "a large-scale documentation and archive project, dedicated to the re/ordering of knowledge, narratives and representations from and about the African continent"
She became a filmmaker after working with economist Thi Minh Ngo and filmmaker Chris Marker on a new translation of his 1954 film Les Statues Meurent Aussi. Her films, which often have cultural themes, are a cross of fiction, travel essay, and documentary.
She is the recipient of the 2015 Art & Technology Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and of the 2016 AIR Award, which “seeks to honour and celebrate extraordinary African artists who are committed to producing provocative, innovative and socially-engaging work”.
She was named by The Africa Report as one of 50 African Trailblazers and by Okayafrica as one of 12 African women making history.
She has sat on the juries of the Kuenyehia Prize for Arts and the TURN Award.
Nana recently spoke at TEDx Talks in Euston. Her speech was titled ‘We Deserve To Be In This Place’. The video of her speech was released on YouTube in February 2019.
Nana curated the first pavilion from Ghana at Venice Biennale 2019 . It was one of the most anticipated exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, Ghana Freedom showcases the work of six Ghanaian artists, Lynette Yiadom- Boakye El Anatsuiui , Feliia Abba, Ghana’s first female Photographer ,Ibrahim Maham, Selasi Awusi Sosu and filmmaker John Akomfan who span three generations, in an exhibition display designed by architect Sir David Adjaye.The Ghana Pavilion comes at a time that Oforiatta Ayim describes as of particular importance to narrative building in relation to the country and to Africa as a continent. “The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations, of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our ‘year of return,’ of discussing what it means to have our cultural objects returned and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world, and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have to envision,” she said in a statement.
I think that everything I do is about creating these new narratives. Whether it’s the book I’m writing, the films I’m making, the cultural research projects I’m doing; the cultural encyclopaedia or the mobile museum project or this Ghana Freedom project for the Venice Biennale, or the museums work I am doing at Pitt Rivers in Oxford or the Osu Castle museum project in Accra, all these different projects are about creating multi-layered, pluralistic new narratives.
Her first novel, The God Child , a story of personal and national identity and described as ‘a debut novel by one of the most exciting African literary voices to emerge in recent years’ was published in November 2019 by Bloomsbury and in Germany by Penguin Verlag in April 2021
Praise for ‘The God Child’
“Meditative, gestural, philosophic: a brave reinvention of the immigrant narrative, unapologetically inward-facing, seductively lyric ... Unprecedented”
“'An intriguing debut … From gender politics to life as a young black immigrant in Europe, the central themes are invigorated through rich characterisation and detail … A lyrical prose style swoops the reader into its fold from the outset … Brightly detailed … Vibrant in its themes, prose and characterisation”
“A story that, like this one, will illuminate Ghana's history; a story that will coax something whole from the broken parts of their lives”
New York Times Book Review
“Pioneering and admirable … Ayim is adept at capturing the anxiety of a preteen whose desire to fit in is exacerbated by being black in a world where blackness and Africa are not valued … Books such as The God Child have the potential to enrich [world literature] and, in Berger's words, bring new ways of seeing”
“A cultural juggernaut”
“Hugely readable … Dizzying … Intriguing and engrossing … A classic coming-of-age narrative … Deeply concerned with Ghanaian history and the psychic dislocations of exile”
“I read this novel very slowly. I didn't want to miss anything ... It is a rich, beautiful book and when I got to the end, I wanted to start again”
“It is a rare kind of woman who enjoys a project so vast that it's practically unfinishable, but Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a Ghanaian writer and historian, never quits what she has started”
“One of the foremost architects of the contemporary African arts scene”
Bloomsbury (UK and Commonwealth), Bloomsbury (US), Verlagsgruppe Random House GmbH (Germany)
Electric Lit / interview
New York Times Book Review / review
Nana named one of 100 women of 2020 by OkayAfrica