top of page

During a fifteen-month residency at the Zinsou Foundation, Beninese artist Ishola Akpo chosen to work on the theme of African queens, who reigned but who were for the most part voluntarily forgotten in the history of many countries.

Tassi Hangbé in Benin, Yalla Ndaté in Senegal, Njinga in Angola, Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana and the Yoruba queens of Nigeria, but also in Europe, Marie-Antoinette of Austria in France and Isabella the Catholic in Spain, are Queens who have inspired by Ishola Akpo.


The artist, during his research, quickly realized that there were very few documents and archives related to these queens of Africa. This is how the "AGBARA Women" project was born, for which Ishola Akpo, photographer in the first place, also experimented with new media such as weaving, embroidery, sculpture, collage and sewing on paper.


"AGBARA Women" expresses the determination, strength and resistance shown by these African queens, but also the fragility of their power in the face of all forms of opposition they may have encountered. "AGBARA Women" is an ode to African women and traditions.  "AGBARA Women" is an ambitious, precise and original work, which we have the honor to present at the Ouidah Museum of the Zinsou Foundation.

Trace of a queen .jpg

“I document myself, I go to meet History. It is this research work that is fascinating. It's not about picking up the camera and starting to photograph, no. I feed myself first. And when I feed myself, I go into a trance. I don't read a lot but when I open a book, I go into a trance. When people tell me stories, when I read, I have images that come into my head. It is from there that I want to immortalize these images and that is where I take my camera. It is the time of trance that animates me at this moment. Documentary research is a very important step in my work. It is like an initiate who goes to the convent, after the initiation stage, this “formation” he received in the convent, he puts it in the public square and this divinity takes shape in him, and he is no longer in himself. It's the same thing when I do my research... Afterwards, I take up photography and it's the trance that animates me at that time."

Ishola Akpo

 “My tapestries are manifestos, for me it’s a new way of doing photography and creating new images. Approaching the canvas to decode the words embroidered on it by hand, we are confronted with a territory punctuated with evocative words.

 I try to make visible what is invisible. »

Ishola Akpo

“The thread is both the fragile but binding element, and the needle the metallic and resistant element. This sewn red thread, which connects the paper, represents the common thread of forgotten or erased history. »

Ishola Akpo

bottom of page