Nana Oforiatta Ayim

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Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Nana at the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, 2015.jpg

Nana Oforiatta Ayim is a Ghanaian writer, art historian and filmmaker.


Her first novel will be published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2019.[1]

Art history[edit]

She has written widely on cultural narratives, histories, and institutions in Africa,[2][3] and gives regular talks on the decolonization of knowledge and museums.[4][5][6][7][8]

She is the founder of the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge, based in Accra;[9][10] as she has said: " a lot of people involved in creative work in Ghana and other parts of Africa, it feels like it’s not just enough for us to produce, but that we have to provide the context and the paradigms for that production".[11]

She has initiated the pan-African Cultural Encyclopedia, "a large-scale documentation and archive project, dedicated to the re/ordering of knowledge, narratives and representations from and about the African continent"[12][13][14][15][16] about which The New York Times has written: "The encyclopedia will consist of an open-source internet platform for documenting past, present and future African arts and culture (starting with Ghana) and eventually will be published in 54 volumes, one for each country. An ambitious undertaking, the Cultural Encyclopedia aims to change perceptions of the continent and help alleviate the frustration of African cultural producers concerned that their rich histories have been lost or forgotten over the decades because they lack good archives".[17]

Exhibitions she has curated include the first exhibition in London of photographs by James Barnor at Black Cultural Archives during the "Ghana at 50" jubilee season in 2007,[18][19] and Serge Attukwei Clottey's My Mother’s Wardrobe at Accra's Gallery 1957 in 2016.[20][21][22][23] She has worked as creative director of various institutions in Accra.[24][25][26]

Oforiatta-Ayim has also created a new type of "mobile" museum, using kiosk-sized moveable galleries to showcase artworks and cultural artefacts across the regions of Ghana.[27][28][29] In The Guardian, Charlotte Jansen writes: "Ayim said she started to reflect on the museum model in  Africa while working at the British Museum. Struck by how differently African objects were encountered in display cabinets in the UK with how they were actively used in festivals back home, she began to think about how material culture could be preserved and presented in a way that was more in keeping with local traditions."[30]


She became a film maker after working with economist Thi Minh Ngo and film maker Chris Marker on a new translation of his 1954 film Les Statues Meurent Aussi.ref>Ric Bower, "Up Through The Cracks", Culture Colony Quarterly Magazine, pp. 30–33.</ref>  Oforiatta Ayim's films are a cross of fiction, travel essay and documentary,[31][32] and have been shown at museums including The New Museum, [33][34] the Tate Modern,[35][36][37] the Stavanger Kunsthall, and LACMA.[38]

Awards and honours[edit]

She is the recipient of the 2015 Art & Technology Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [39] 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”.[40][41] She was named one of Apollo magazine's "40 under 40", as "one of the most talented and inspirational young people who are driving forward the art world today"[42] a Quartz Africa innovator, for finding new approaches and principles to tackle many of the intractable challenges faced on the continent",[43] one of 50 African Trailblazers by The Africa Report,[44] and by Okayafrica as one of 12 African women making history.[45] She has sat on the juries of the Kuenyehia Prize for Arts and the TURN Award.[46] She is an inaugural recipient of the Soros Arts Fellowship.[47]


  1. ^ Alex Frank, "Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s Open-Source Encyclopedia of African History Starts With Ghana", Vogue, 20 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Ten Exceptional Non-Fiction Writers From Ghana You Should Read", Girdblog, 22 September 2016.
  3. ^ Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, "Speak Now",, 1 May 2011.
  4. ^ Sumaya Kassim, "The museum will not be decolonised", Media Diversified, 15 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Symposium: The Role of Encyclopedic Museums in Complex Political Times (in Europe)", 2018.
  6. ^ Corine van Emmerik, "Dare to be hostile", Metropolis M, 12 January 2017.
  7. ^ Ina Hagen, "The Ballad of Institutional Dependency", Kunstkritikk, 3 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Archives That Matter: Digital infrastructures for sharing unshared histories in European colonial archives", Copenhagen, 30–31 January 2018.
  9. ^ Akinyi Ochieng, "#Goals: Nana Oforiatta-Ayim Is the Ghanaian Creative Preserving Africa’s Artistic Past", OkayAfrica, 31 August 2017.
  10. ^ Nyaguthii Maina, "Art and its role in telling personal, family and collective histories", LSE Blog, 4 May 2016.
  11. ^ Houghton Kinsman, "Breaking down artistic barriers in Ghana", Another Africa, 31 August 2015.
  12. ^ "About", Cultural Encyclopedia.
  13. ^ Ginanne Brownell Mitic,"Technology Expands the World for African Artists", The New York Times, 24 March 2016.
  14. ^ Nana Oforiatta Ayim, "A Cultural Encyclopaedia", Kaleidoscope, Issue 15.
  15. ^ Mathias Virilli, "La Cultural Encyclopaedia, le projet de toute une vie de Nana Oforiatta-Ayim", RFI, 12 May 2017.
  16. ^ Lufuno Ramadwa, "Nana Oforiatta Ayim Is Creating Africa’s First Art Encyclopedia", Elle South Africa, 16 September 2017.
  17. ^ Ginanne Brownell Mitic, "How Diverse Is African Art? A 54-Volume Encyclopedia Will Try for an Answer", The New York Times, 11 March 2017.
  18. ^ "James Barnor: 'My advice to young photographers: fall in love with books'", Photobook Bristol, 9 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Black Cultural Archives Launches Exciting Heritage Programme to Commemorate Ghana's Golden Jubilee", Community Archives and Heritage Group, 7 March 2007.
  20. ^ Alice McCool, "Inside Accra’s Fresh New Art Gallery, Opening This Ghanaian Independence Day", Okayafrica, 26 February 2016.
  21. ^ Arielle Bier, "Serge Attukwei Clottey: In Conversation With Arielle Bier", SFAQ, 18 March 2016.
  22. ^ Korantemaa Larbi, "Gallery 1957", Design233, 12 April 2016.
  23. ^ Natalie Hegert, "Can a Local Commercial Gallery Make a Difference For Artists in Ghana", Huffington Post, 31 March 2016.
  24. ^ Cristina Ruiz, "The art of Ghana", The Financial Times, 17 June 2016.
  25. ^ Claude Grunitzky, "Meet the team behind Gallery 1957", True Africa, 10 June 2016
  26. ^ Lily le Brun, "Textiles and West African culture", The Financial Times, 24 June 2016.
  27. ^ Drew Snyder, "The Kiosk Museum: A Space of Exploration & Inclusive Representation", Accra [dot] alt.
  28. ^ Billie Adwoa McTernan, "Artists in Accra are using kiosks to rethink space in the city", Africa Is a Country, 21 January 2016.
  29. ^ Alice McCool, "Historian Launches 'Living History Hubs' in Ghana", Creators, Vice, 9 December 2015.
  30. ^ Charlotte Jansen, "Ghana's first travelling museum ready to hit the road", The Guardian, 8 November 2016.
  31. ^ "A Shred of Identity", Sophie Hunter Central, 11 September 2015.
  32. ^ Adam Kleinman, "Someone’s been sleeping in my bed: a mystery", B-Post.
  33. ^ Holland Cotter, "Quiet Disobedience", The New York Times, 16 February 2012.
  34. ^ Orlando Reade, "The Ungovernables", Africa Is a Country, 28 February 2012.
  35. ^ "States In Time", Tate Modern, 9 November 2013.
  36. ^ Robin Newman, "Wu Tsang" (review, including "Tied and True"), Art Agenda, 1 July 2013.
  37. ^ "Watch: Wu Tsang & Nana Oforiatta-Ayim",
  38. ^ "Oil For Aladdin’s Lamp (Symposium)"; Amy McCabe Heibel, "Art + Technology in Africa", Unframed, LACMA, 5 October 2016.
  39. ^ Amy McCabe Heibel, "Eight Artists Receive Art + Technology Lab Grants", LACMA Unframed, 10 June 2015.
  40. ^ Abdi Ali, "Artists in Residency 2015 Winners Announced", ArtMattersInfo, 15 February 2016.
  41. ^ Jennifer Platt, "Winners of The 2015 Artists in Residency Programme Announced", Sunday Times Books Live, 15 February 2016.
  42. ^ "Nana Oforiatta-Ayim", 40 Under 40 Global, Apollo, September 2017.
  43. ^ "Quartz Africa Innovators 2017", Quartz Africa.
  44. ^ Portia Arthur, "Yvonne Nelson named in Africa's 'top 50 trailblazers", Pulse Ghana, 8 March 2015.
  45. ^ "The Creative Brains Behind Accra’s Fresh New Art Space, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim", Okayafrica, 8 March 2016.
  46. ^ "Prof El Anatsui arrives for 2016 Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art Final Awards", Ghana Web, 13 April 2016.
  47. ^ "Open Society Foundations Announce Inaugural Soros Arts Fellows", Open Society Foundations, 3 May 2018.

External links[edit]