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Harold Offeh

Moving image and video play several roles in artist Harold Offeh's work. Initially interested in performance-to-camera as an art student--in subverting the language and modes of popular culture and television with video as his tool--Offeh's recent work has developed beyond that medium to include collaborative projects and 'curatorial' works where he devises larger projects with multiple artists and groups of participants. While the influence of moving image is always present in Offeh's oeuvre, the effect of film and television culture in his practice is evident in not only the form his work takes, but also the content that informs it.

Offeh's early work, made as he emerged as a graduate of the Fine Art Photography MA at London's Royal College of Art was rooted in deconstructing ideas of identity and stereotypes through the media and languages of popular culture. In recent years his work has developed out of such discourses to extend his interests to collaboration and co-operation with other artists, children, and participants in his artwork. In turn, Offeh has developed his practice as a sensibility and response to stimuli in popular and contemporary culture.

Playing a prominent role in Offeh's work are the frequent use of personae, from little Harold, a samba-dancing, labourer's uniform-wearing cultural tourist (and cultural participant) in Brazil, to the artist as a deconstructed representation of the African American actress Hattie McDaniel. Offeh's influences are most often rooted in American video art that came out of the 1970s--works by artists such as Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, and Martha Rosler. As a child Offeh watched a lot of TV, and at art school he became interested in the pervasiveness and dominance that TV possesses and operates within contemporary society. Both creative and analytical, Offeh's practice is influenced by the history of moving image in popular culture, as well as being a product, and a critique, of it.

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Installation view of Being Mammy (Mammy's Looks) by Harold Offeh, 2004
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