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Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh: Psychedelic Black Futures

“Suspension”, Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh, 2016.

I can’t remember where I first met Akwetey, but it was definitely 2004. It may have been at my kitchen table, moments after I’d just arrived from the UK, and weeks before he finally gave up his English name, “John” to fully embrace his Ghanaian birth name forever. It was still Bush era. Falling in love with the cultural identities we had been forced to erase as kids to be more white, was now an act of retaliation.

One half of a pair of fraternal Gemini twins, at the time, Akwetey and his brother Aku were living in a loft share somewhere in Williamsburg with Princess Kush, one of Fela Kuti’s youngest vocalists. Akwetey was constantly head down making work. Either music with his band Dragons Of Zynth who completed international tours with Saul Williams, TV On The Radio & Yeasayer, or with his extraordinarily detailed paintings as featured on DOZ’s first record.

Cover of ‘Coronation Thieves’, Gigantic Records, 2007

Sometimes appearing under the name TIRO, Akwetey now combines drawing, painting, and 3D technologies to tug at the nexus of ancient and modern hero archetypes. The output is what he describes as a new ‘socio-visual’ language.

“Mentalism”, Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh, 2016

“Predatora”, Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh, 2016

His newest work centers on the transformative power of new mythology, sprouting from the heart of what he calls “nostalgic and psycho-surreal modes.”

Akwetey has recently completed his artist-in-residence at Mass MoCA. His vocal composition and narrative contributions to Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue have been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, The New Museum, The Tate Modern, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Website: (also an unofficial link to work via MASS MoCA here)

Instagram: @akwwetey Facebook: @akweteyo Twitter: @akweteyo

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