Interview

Voodoo Pussy: Meet Azizaa, the Ghanaian Artist Challenging Western Religion

We talk voodoo, Yoruba spirituality and Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' with Ghanaian singer Azizaa.

Ghanaian artist Azizaa first bewitched us with her unique brand of "Voodoo Music" last year when she dropped the song and video for her single "Black Magic Woman." The singer vehemently criticized Western religion and what she believes is its toxic hold on Ghanaians. Her delivery was clever and assertive, and she had the stylistic prowess to match.


Not much has changed since then. The singer's conscious decision to embrace more traditional forms of African spirituality continues to guide her artistic endeavors and we continue to be intrigued. The singer says that her upcoming album Vodua will give listeners a deeper look into her complex spiritual world.

We got a glimpse ahead of time by checking in with the anomalous artist. We talk voodoo (of course), Yoruba spirituality by way of Beyoncé's Lemonade, and the creation of her aptly named new single, "Voodoo Pussy," which the singer describes as "an ode to women everywhere who know the power of their magic box."

Read the conversation below featuring photography by Dexter R. Jones.

Azizaa. Photography by Dex R. Jones.

Can you give us some background about yourself and how you got started?

I come from a family that sings, almost everyone is a musician in my family. It also stems from our culture. In the Ewe culture, there's a song for almost everything.

Can you tell us how voodoo has influenced your art?

I think voodoo is what I call art, because I am unable to find an English word for it.

Is there a difference between voodoo and religions like santeria?

I believe they're the same thing. Santeria is heavily influenced by the Orishas system from Yoruba culture whereas Voodoo is the ancestral way of worship from the Dahomey culture. It's technically the same or a similar form of spiritual practice from two different cultures.

What do you think of Beyoncé’s Orisha symbolism in her recent Lemonade release, does it make you feel better to have people more aware of the culture?

Absolutely! I was happy to see Lemonade. For me its an introduction of the African deities/Orisha to the masses.

Let's talk about "Voodoo Pussy" and the rest of the album. Tell us about this new release.

I recorded #VoodooPussy at Villain sounds in Ghana. It was produced by Kuvie, the same producer who produced "Black Magic Woman," then I brought it up to Brooklyn to RadianLab and got it mixed and mastered by Moni Delgado who also added some sick background vocals. Some songs on the album are produced by other producers. I like to experiment with how I create my sound and art, but I like to stick to the people I work with for the simple fact that my voice requires a sound engineer who gets it, besides, I don' t like special effects on my voice.

Azizaa. Photography by Dex R. Jones.

Your previous single "Black Magic Woman" denounced Christianity, will the rest of the album follow that theme?

Yeah, pretty much. The album is called VODUA which means "The Deity" so the album has a bit of a trap, where you get a peep into the demented mind of a "Black Magic Woman" and you get to see how I interact with the spirits I see and dance with.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I have a jewelry line called KORGA Pieces. 'Korga' means something beautiful to adorn the neck with, and as part of our culture the size of your neck piece speaks volumes about your elegance so it takes weeks and sometimes months to create a Korga piece. The black piece I had on my neck in the black magic woman video took 6 months to create and required 8 hours a day of work. I just introduced my intimate jewelry collection to the website

Keep up with Azizaa on Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram  and via her website.

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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