Temple of Acacia is dedicated to the spiritual practices of West Africa that have been and continue to be suppressed in the U.S. cultural zeitgeist. The Acacia tree is native to many regions of Africa, and became the primary icon representing the diverse tribal nations from which people of the African diaspora in the Americas are descended.
In this site-specific, multimedia installation at OSH, Dario Mohr attempts to understand and relate his own evolving spiritual beliefs to those of his indigenous ancestors, while drawing visually from the Anglican colonial religious practices of his upbringing which he later abandoned. The exhibition holds the religious rituals of Mohr’s ancestors and other descendants of this region in high esteem, transforming the gallery into a sacred space of veneration and remembrance of the spirituality that many Black people in the U.S.’s ancestors once practiced, and that continues to be practiced today.
The show is anchored by an image of multiple hands forming one family tree, which was first presented in Mohr’s Sow the Seeds mural currently on display at the Mitchel Housing district of the South Bronx. The hands represent the many tribal groups of West Africa. This exploration inspired Mohr to embark on a solo travel research tour of Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria to visit the stomping grounds of his ancestors and document the journey through video and photo collage. These digital works, along with prints and assemblage, frame the central Acacia Altar in the gallery.
Temple of Acacia is part of an evolving series that also included a recent exhibition at the Lewis Latimer House in Queens focusing on the artist’s Grenadan heritage. Mohr hopes that presenting this latest work at the Old Stone House, an institution dedicated to local colonial, revolutionary and indigenous history, will help honor the presence of BIPOC peoplepeople of color in the surrounding Park Slope area (in the midst of its ongoing gentrification). In addition to providing vehicles for memorialization, Mohr’s work aims to inspire others whose heritage and legacy have been severed due to colonialism to “experience the reclamation of lost ancestral identity, and perhaps embark on their own ancestry research journey.”