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Art Diary

Paa Joe: The Gates of No Return

17 July 2020

While some museums remain shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apollo’s usual weekly pick of exhibitions will include shows at institutions that are now reopening as well as digital projects providing virtual access to art and culture.

Joseph Tetteh-Ashong, better known as Paa Joe, is celebrated in Ghana as a craftsman of the figurative coffins known as abeduu adekai or ‘proverb boxes’. In 2004, he began a series of quite different memorials – architectural models of painted hardwood that represent the castles and forts of the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where more than six million Africans were held before deportation to the Americas as slaves between the 16th and 19th centuries. All seven are on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which reopens to the public on 18 July, along with archival documents and short films by the film-maker Benjamin Wigley and the curator Nana Oforiatta Ayim; the exhibition continues until 16 August. Find out more from the High Museum’s website.

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Christiansborg Castle – Accra . 1661 Denmark , 1679 Portugal, 1850 Britain (2004–05/2017), Paa Joe.

Christiansborg Castle – Accra. 1661 Denmark, 1679 Portugal, 1850 Britain (2004–05/2017), Paa Joe. Photo: Olya Vysotskaya/American Folk Art Museum, New York; courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Cape Coast Castle. 1653 Sweden, 1665 Britain

Cape Coast Castle. 1653 Sweden, 1665 Britain (2004–05/2017), Paa Joe. Photo: Paa Joe; courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Fort St. Sebastian – Shama. 1520s Portuguese, 1638 Netherlands, 1872 Britain Fort St. Sebastian – Shama. 1520s Portuguese, 1638 Netherlands, 1872 Britain

Fort St. Sebastian – Shama. 1520s Portuguese, 1638 Netherlands, 1872 Britain (2004–05/2017), Paa Joe. Photo: Olya Vysotskaya/American Folk Art Museum, New York; courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.