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Nana Oforiatta-Ayim

AYAN - New Ways of Seeing

Series: New Canonical Histories
Date: Thursday 21 November 2019
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Running time: 75 mins

Ways of historicising that are seemingly authoritative, singular, hierarchical subjective and linear, are giving way to more pluralistic, fluid ways of conveying narratives. One of these ways is the Ayan, a form of musical language and history telling of the Akan people of West Africa, that is allusive, elliptical, and multi-textured. The Ayan are evocative, rather than narrative; cyclical, rather than linear. They are told in the continuous or historic present, so that the past is continuously reconstituted in the present. The offbeat is as important as the sounded, what is left out is as important as what is pronounced. Their overall formal pattern is flexible, so that the performer can vary the order of the Ayan from one performance to the next; reshaping themes and motifs so that the text is constituted anew with each performance; and even though each subject is given particularity, they share components and inhabit spaces of their predecessors, so that the ‘I’ of the Ayan moves between male and female, specific and generalised persona. This fluidity of interpretation together with others make up a multivocality of oral, musical, performance and visual forms. I have drawn on the form of the Ayan as well as its multivocality in my writing, films, and art historical work; creating a Mobile Museum and Cultural Encyclopaedia that are predicted on collaborative identity-making, fluidity of interpretation, and polyrhythmic open-endedness of text; that aim to question and create continuously new realities. 

Nana Ofosuaa Oforiatta Ayim has a Masters in African Art History with a thesis on contemporary Ghanaian art, and a research degree in African Languages and Cultures with a thesis on the Ayan, a classical Ghanaian form of philosophy and history, which she has since used as the basis of her work as a writer, art historian and filmmaker. She has written for publications like frieze, Kaleidoscope, ArtNews and African Metropolitan Architecture, and is publishing her first novel, The God Child, with Bloomsbury Publishing in November 2019. She has made several films, a cross of fiction, travel essay, and documentary, that have been shown at institutions, like The New Museum, Tate Modern, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Channel 4, UK. She is the founder of the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge, through which she has pioneered a pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia; a Mobile Museum; Cultural Leadership Fellowship, and Ghana’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019. She is the recipient of the 2015 Art & Technology Award from LACMA; of the 2016 AIR Award, which “seeks to honour and celebrate extraordinary African artists who are committed to producing provocative, innovative and socially-engaging work”; and of the inaugural Soros Arts Fellowship. She has been named one of the Apollo '40 under 40’; one of 50 African Trailblazers by The Africa Report; one of 12 African women making history by Okayafrica; a Quartz Africa Innovator; and is a Global South Visiting Fellow at Oxford University.

Image: Mobile Museum, designed by architect Latifah Iddriss and D.K. Osseo Asare

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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.