Akosua Adoma Owusu (Virginia, United States, 1984) is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker known for her films that center on themes of immigration, racism, feminisms, and cultural oppression. In the short film Me broni ba, or My White Baby (2007), Owusu portrays, on one hand, the daily lives of women in beauty salons in the city of Kumasi (Ghana), suggesting a reflection on notions of beauty imposed by Western standards. On the other, the film depicts the immigration of a black child from Ghana to the United States, underscoring the processes of contact and cultural shock she experienced during the move.
Me broni ba combines scenes that depict hair relaxing treatments in beauty salons—a space that, in the film, is a site both of feminine sociability and of symbolic violence—with images of Ghanaian children imitating this act in playing with their white dolls. The video features narrations, which resemble unconscious voices, commenting on women’s dedication to their haircare.
In the second part of the work, a voice appears narrating a childhood memory that, in a biographical gesture, reveals itself to belong to Owusu’s sister, escribing how the family’s move to the United States placed her in contact with new visualities and experiences: snow, bare trees, white people with blonde hair, esembling her dolls. Being on American soil made her want to transform her own identity.
Me broni ba approaches the experiences of black children and women from different parts of the world who, still today, encounter subordination and the violence of the imposition of a single aesthetic standard upon their bodies. The film allows us to consider how reflecting on this reality can open avenues for reconstitution, belonging, and the affectivity of black and diasporic bodies.
CURATED BY Horrana de Kássia Santoz, Curatorial Assistant, MASP
Throughout 2019, the videos presented here comprise the Histories of Women, Feminist Histories cycle at MASP. The program highlights the production of women artists, from different nationalities, generations, and origins, with the objective of promoting discussions on feminisms and representation in the arts.