Burton and Judy Onofrio Gallery

October 2, 2015 – January 3, 2016

Opening Reception: October 2  |  6 – 8pm
Member preview & cocktail reception 5 – 5:30pm
Artist Talk 5:30 – 6pm

The exhibition Existential Crisis showcases the captivating filmography of contemporary filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu. This presentation will include five films of varying lengths, which subtly weave together fiction, parable, and autobiographical experiences. These works embody the artist’s response to popular culture, tensions evolving from the African diaspora and dispersion of cultural tradition, while recapitulating methods of traditional storytelling.

Much of Owusu’s works address what she describes as the ‘warring consciousness,’ where the African immigrant located in the United States has a triple consciousness. This triple consciousness includes; in the African Diaspora having to assimilate in white American culture in order to succeed in American society; second the African immigrant is often grouped and identified with African Americans in the eyes of others mostly because of a shared skin color; and third, many Africans do not always identify with African American culture and history; they are distinct. Owusu recounts feeling suspended in a constant out-of-body experience and moving through the world as spectacle. African in America and American in Africa, through her work, she seeks to locate a space between the two worlds that she can call home.

Owusu’s films posses a rhythmic pace and quality, which allows the viewer to experience the anxiety between these identities. She hopes that with her films she will open audiences up to a new dialogue between the continents of Africa and America; one that incorporates more than just stereotypes, but includes both conventionalized and un-conventionalized discourse on race in its service. By creating complex contradictions, she advances new meaning that can be deposited into universal consciousness and societal framework.

Existential Crisis is organized by RAC and curated by Jovan C. Speller, Curator, Art and Education.



Akosua Adoma Owusu is a filmmaker with Ghanaian parentage whose films have screened worldwide in prestigious film festivals, museums, galleries, universities, and microcinemas since 2005. She has MFA degrees in Film & Video and Fine Art from California Institute of the Arts and received her BA in Media Studies and Art with distinction from the University of Virginia, where she studied under the mentorship of prolific avant-garde filmmaker, Kevin Jerome Everson.

Her company Obibini Pictures produced award-winning films including Afronauts, and Kwaku Ananse, which received the 2013 African Movie Academy Award for Best Short Film and was nominated for the 2013 Golden Bear Prize at the Berlinale, Berlin International Film Festival. The French Cesar Film Academy Golden Nights Panorama program included Kwaku Ananse in Best Short Films of the year. Focus Features Africa First, Art Matters and The Sarah Jacobson Film grant supported Kwaku Ananse in 2012. She was a featured artist at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2010 and received the Africa First Award sponsored by Focus Features in 2011. Owusu’s film Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful received the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2013. Her most recent exhibitions include Prospect.3: Notes for Now in New OrleansAmerica Is Hard to See at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and The Art of Hair in Africa at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.

Her work is included in the collections and archives of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fowler Museum, Yale University Film Study Center, and Indiana University Bloomington, home of the Black Film Center/Archive.

One of ArtForum‘s Top Ten Artists and one of The Huffington Post‘s 30 Contemporary Artists under 40, Owusu has exhibited worldwide including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and included in the London Film Festival. She is a 2013 MacDowell Colony Fellow and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.