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“Tiro, Millennial Soldier” Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh
“So you are the best judge of what has to be done, this one thing my dear Tiro, I beg of you – spare no expense in any respect.”
– Cicero, 50 BC
In this new millennium, heroes kill the Internet, land planes on water, and fast for justice. When a new hero acts, we are challenged to distend culturally overdrawn attitudes, reckon with our collective social conscience, and transfer mythology into positive, harmonic realities. If not only for the freshness of new faces à la Nate Parker or John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII), heroes stand to recalibrate what African scholar Kanu calls the “attitudinal orientations” of world socio-political thought. New attitudes, when fed into a myth-machine, reframe and widen our understanding of past & future cultural narratives. Through existential revelation and affirmations of love and triumph, hero stories create new pathways to social connectedness, transforming & re-humanizing the spirit inside of us.
Growing up as a young Ghanaian-American, there existed in my early years a confluence of customs and belief systems that inform my art practice today. Spanning both African and Western cosmologies, these experiences influence my development as an artist and world citizen. From a hyphenated pose, a duality of conscience arises in my work. Concurrent histories uncover for me what John Coltrane defined as a “primal futurism,” for me a dipolar mode drawn as much from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Nietzsche’s Superman, as from the historical and lyrical resonance of W.E.B Dubois, Ralph Ellison, & James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.
Employing the use of painting, 3D technology, and computer engineering, my interest lies squarely in the liminal spaces between power, tragedy, absurdity, and beauty, and the ways in which intercontinental dread is reconciled by the imagination. In these new works I am drawn to the excavation of fear, fantasy, and heroic action as a means to bridge seemingly disparate genealogies–be they literal or symbolic. To that effect, Tiro: Millennial Soldier is a techno-visual quest–to explore the inception of one’s own personal mythology, the emergence of self as 21st century superhero.
Born in 1980, Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh lives and works in New York. Sometimes appearing under the name AK, Akwetey is best known as a songwriter & performance artist. His narrative contributions to Grosse Fatigue by Camille Henrot have been exhibited at the New Museum, The Tate Modern Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in new York, and was awarded the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Most recently AK participated in Valium Valentine (Sarah Ortmeyer, Andrew Wyatt, Hisham Bharoocha, Charlie XCX) at MoMA’s PS1 in Queens, NY.
Combining drawing, painting and 3D sculpture, AK is pulling at the nexus of ancient and modern hero archetypes, that together invoke the “primal futurism” of modern socio-visual language. His recent work centers on the superhero and the transformative power of new mythology. Realizing his character narratives in ink, painting and sculpture, AK creates revisionist historical fiction that challenges dominant perceptions of iconic heroes and the societies from which they come.