Profiles in Regeneration: Yaa, 23, Ghana
A space that allows communities to actively imagine the future we need.
Yaa Addae needed creative spaces to exist as a queer Black woman in Accra, Ghana — so she decided to build them herself.
While A-KRA Studio started with IRL spaces, Addae gradually moved into creating online creative spaces including, Decolonize The Art World and The Imaginarium, respectively, an online anti-colonial art history school and residency program.
But of course, she has bigger plans; plans to expand projects to London and plans to create museums. Because she doesn’t see limitations, she keeps daydreaming.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Yaa Addae: Held.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
YA: *whispers* I currently have a crush on John Boyega.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
YA: Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell. I’ve been giving most of my energy to learning alongside Black creative technologists and deep-diving into indigenous African invention.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
YA: My 10-year-old sister Ewura for keeping me silly.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
YA: I started A-KRA Studio because there weren’t enough spaces for queer Black women in Accra, Ghana and I wanted to use my curatorial background to imagine new worlds that centered play and imagination. I needed a home for myself and for organizing exhibitions, funfairs, and workshops for the community. As my practice grew more in the direction of technofutures and how the digital provides ample space for glitching systems that weren’t made for us, this quickly evolved into an online anticolonial art history school, Decolonize The Art World, and residency program for digital artists, The Imaginarium.
RF: In two years' time, what would success with your project look like?
YA: Success would look like having prototyped a future museum in Accra and in my other home city, London. I describe this model as a ‘portal,’ drawing on the Ancient Greek conceptualization of a museum and an African indigenous counterimagining. This reinvents museums, displacing the colonial cultural technology used to uphold exclusivity, and instead makes space for collective worldbuilding. A space that allows communities to actively imagine the future we need. The vision? “After school, on the weekends, during lunch breaks, we come together and share in the creation of this world; all stakeholders in the future. Each Portal depends on the needs of its community: some are mobile, some are seasonal, some are envisioning 2270, and others are in the here and now. At the core of every portal is play, wonder, and imagination. Portal guides (I believe they were called curators back in the day) steward us into this work with speculative design, participatory exhibitions, and technology. Display is a thing of the past, now we experiment.”
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which you choose and why?
YA: I would focus on funding creative industries because of their worldbuilding capacity. At this time, we need to be imagining a new world and dreamers can help lead the way.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
YA: For me, the best thing was my history teacher, Mr. Kamau, who gave me space to daydream, and the worst thing is how few teachers/educational systems encourage students to do the same.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
YA: Break it open.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
YA: The way my community cares for each other and the people working to expand our now, inspire me for our future. Artist, guerilla theorist, and friend Neema Githere asks, “We are the African diasporic people living in our ancestors’ future, now. What are we doing with that? How are we alchemizing our displacement? How are we activating the past, to put the present in motion, towards the future?” This way of being fiercely in the now, is what Neema describes as Afropresentism, which guides my work — “a distinguishing genre, less about what might have happened, or could happen; and instead, an embodiment of what did happen, what is happening.” At a time where the world is being actively reimagined, how can we look to current cultural work, our Afropresent, to bring the future into being?
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist, Yaa Addae, click here.