Dzifa Benson

Writer, Producer, Performance Maker

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Dzifa Benson is an artist whose primary mode of expression is via literature. Her work is informed by the juncture where science meets art and she has explored this through poetry, drama, performance, libretti, essay, journalism and participation. More recently, her practice has expanded to embrace installation and film. Recurring themes in her work include the body: how its hidden processes informs who we are; connection: the ways we are more similar than we are different and, African (particularly Ghanaian) mythology.

Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Dzifa grew up in several countries in west Africa. She has performed her work internationally in many contexts such as artist in residence in the warren of rooms that form the Courtauld Institute of Art; disruptive element in classrooms across the 5 sites of City & Islington College; curator of a poetry performance responding to a David Hockney painting in Tate Britain; producer and host of a literary experience in the Dissenters Gallery of Kensal Green Cemetery and core artist in BBC Africa Beyond's cross-arts project, Translations. Her poetry, stories, plays, libretti, journalism and essays have been published and performed in Poetry Review, Magma Poetry, Philosophy Now, Time Out, The Guardian, Southbank Centre, Tate Britain, Bristol Old Vic, The Foundling Museum, the Bush Theatre, ITV Studios, Kings Place, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Shakespeare & Co Bookshop in Paris among others.

As a creative producer, Dzifa curates and programmes one-off literary events and multimedia literature festivals and conferences all across the UK. Working with Renaissance One and novelists, poets, journalists, broadcasters and thought leaders, she also produces and curates performances in galleries, museums and other non-traditional performance spaces.

Working with adults in higher education (eg. Brunel University), community organisations (eg. Westminster Arts) and the creative industries (eg. Create KX, British Library), and with children in primary and secondary schools, Dzifa devises and runs workshops, masterclasses, lectures and seminars specialising in Applied Theatre, collaborative practice and community engagement.

Dzifa is currently developing a transmedia project The Spit of Me, an artistic, social and biological investigation into the story that DNA can tell us about identity and migration.

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"Dzifa" literally means "cool heart" but the true translation is nearer in meaning to the word 'serene'.

 

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Self Portrait as a Creature of Numbers

I shifted into this human life from the spirit world,
the fusion of an egg and a sperm at 8.42 pm, where
Latitude 51° 31' 0 N straddles Longitude 0° -.6’ E.
London, N19 to be exact.

At 8 days my mother out-doored me, crossed
the threshold back and forth 7 times, whispered
a prayer over 3 glasses, dabbed my tongue,
one drop from each - water, honey, salt.
She showed my face to the 4 elements each in turn,
punched 2 holes in my earlobes. To bind mind, body
and spirit to a destiny of life path 1, she took 3
new laid eggs cracked them open over my head.

1st daughter of a 4th son of Ghana, my soul surges
8° 00' north of the equator 2°00' west of the prime meridian.
I march to a four beat over 50,000,000 knots
on this ocean called forever knowing that bigger, better
numbers can be reached by always adding just 1 more.

Sketched from 300 moons minus 3
plus 25 valentine cards I never received, I am ruled
by lustre bouncing off the Evening Star, second planet in,
108,000,000 kilometres from the sun.

If you encounter me in the underground standing
1.66 metres tall on the escalator going up or going down,
know that I own 1001 options raised to the power
of infinity plus 1 - dreamer, sinner, runner.

Always climbing 1 more number. At the very least 1.