Cheryl Sim discusses Holy Cloud (Mighty Jesus)
(Mighty Jesus), by Larry Achiampong, consists of a billboard poster placed on two prayer candles. This work is part of the Holy Cloud series, in which the artist explores the phenomenon of the colonization of people in Ghana through the use of religion. Through what can also be read as a ‘meme’, he obliterates the classic depiction of a blond, blue-eyed Jesus with an orb as well as red lips, making reference to the “golliwog”, an anti-Black caricature which has been present in advertising logos, mascots, and consumable objects like rag dolls in the UK. Larry Achiampong has the uncanny ability to bring imagery, popular culture, and also ideas about technology together with a tinge of wry humour to make incisive critique.
About Larry Achiampong
Larry Achiampong’s solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity.
With works that examine his communal and personal heritage – in particular, the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position, Achiampong crate-digs the vaults of history. These investigations examine constructions of ‘the self’ by splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal entrenched socio-political contradictions in contemporary society.
Achiampong has exhibited, performed and presented projects within the UK and abroad including Westminster Station, Tate Britain/Modern, London; The Institute For Creative Arts, Cape Town; The British Film Institute, London; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, Accra; Logan Center Exhibitions, Chicago; Prospect New Orleans, New Orleans; Diaspora Pavilion – 57th Venice Biennale, Venice; Somerset House, London; and the 2019 Venice and Singapore Biennales.
Achiampong is a 2018 Jarman Award nominated artist; a 2019 Paul Hamlyn Award recipient for Visual Arts and in 2020 received the Stanley Picker Fellowship along with artist Dani Amiss. He completed a BA in Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster in 2005 and an MA in Sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art in 2008. He lives and works in Essex, and has been a tutor on the Photography MA programme at Royal College of Art since 2016. Achiampong currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and is represented by Copperfield, London.
Interview with Larry Achiampong - PHI Foundation