Jojo Abot is an artist whose work manifests in many different forms. Describing her sound as Afro-hypnosonic, the Ghanaian artist, who is currently based in New York, will be performing in Swaziland, Johannesburg and Durban this weekend. She speaks to Wanted about exploring ideas of existence as a form of disruption and provocation.
Tell us about your work as a multi-disciplinary artist, and how these art forms intersect? We experience life in multi-media form and, whether consciously or subconsciously, we indulge in art and culture through many different forms. We hear, we see and we feel as humans. What I seek to do through my expressions is to get that message, those feelings or visuals across. I am not limited, bound or restricted to any one medium, neither am I trained formally in any of these things. My journey as a multi-media artist has led to a commitment to self-expression, a willingness to try new things and a desire to be as authentic in my expression as possible.
What are some of the thoughts or things that are informing your work at the moment? I have always been intrigued by the state of humanity, especially our will as humans to survive, to thrive and to be. That has perhaps always been the bedrock of my work.
My first EP, inspired by my grandmother’s name, is called Fyfya Woto. That has sort of developed into a philosophy: New birth, new discovery and the idea of being in constant evolution. Being fluid as opposed to being tied to any state of being. I think I am largely a person who seeks to provoke questions, rather than trying to say one thing. I would like people to experience my provocation as a process towards their own self-discovery and as a constant conversation between myself and the world.
Fyfya Woto was my first project and is based on a fictional narrative. Set during a time of slavery, it follows the character of Fyfya Woto who, when caught in a compromising situation with her Caucasian lover, is taken to a traditional tribunal where she is surrounded by people who tell the story of what they witnessed. It incriminates her and her lover while leaving them to fight for their lives and freedom.
Can you tell us about how Fyfya Woto started off as an EP and has grown into a bigger body of work? Fyfya Woto has become an energy, an aesthetic, a character, a space, a colour, a multitude of colours. It represents evolution, questioning. Seeking not to rebel, but to exist. I think existence is the greatest form of evolution and revolution. To occupy space with a sense of confidence. It manifests in the EP, the visuals and everything I do.
You move between different spaces, and do not necessarily see one place as home. How do you occupy space as an artist in all different spaces? The comfort and audacity of existence can be threatened in different spaces. When you live in one place it is easy to think that prejudice and bias is only exclusive to your space, which makes our fight for freedom very limited to the spaces we occupy. Travelling makes you realise that people experience that same type of prejudice based on something else. So in the idea of rootedness, liberty and freedom becomes a non-negotiable as a personal choice.
What are you working on at the moment? At the moment I am developing my body of work at New Inc, the New Museum’s art design and technology incubator programme in New York. I've also produced two new songs, which will come out this year, that are parallel narratives to release along with two new videos. These two will expand on the narrative of Fyfya Woto in a very special way.
Jojo Abot will be performing in and around South Africa this weekend:
Friday 26 May, Bushfire Festival, Swaziland
Saturday 27 May, Africa Day Concert, Baseline, Johannesburg
Sunday 28 May, Zakifo Music Festival, Durban