Paa Joe: Gates of No Return
Artist and master craftsman Joseph Tetteh Ashong (Ghanian, b. 1947), also known as Paa Joe, is the most celebrated figurative coffin maker of his generation. In the tradition of figurative coffins—or abeduu adekai (which means “proverb boxes”)—the structures represent the unique lives of the dead.
This exhibition comprises a series of large-scale, painted wood sculptures commissioned in 2004 and 2005 that represent architectural models of Gold Coast castles and forts, which served as way stations for more than 6 million Africans sold into slavery and sent to the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In addition to the seven architectural models, the exhibition features archival documents and recordings, including photographs and short films by award-winning filmmaker Benjamin Wigley and art historian Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, curator of Ghana’s 58th pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennale.