Emmanuel Adjei (b. 1988 Amsterdam, NL) is a Ghanaian-Dutch filmmaker and visual artist, whose work has explored the realms between film, music video, and art installation. With a primary interest in storytelling, Adjei's work interrogates concepts of power, freedom, displacement, and inequality, told through his multi-layered dramatic narratives. Creating atmospheric worlds in both a painterly and cinematic style, Adjei always seeks to challenge the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Most recently, Adjei has contributed as director to Beyoncé’s Black is King, which premieres on Disney+ July 31st this year.
His career has been marked by collaborations with a variety of recording artists such as Beyoncé, Madonna, Mark Pritchard, Sevdaliza, and Mykki Blanco. His short film The Formula (2016) and music video Human (2016) for Sevdaliza, has been hailed by critics, and his most prominent mind-bending piece for Shahmaran (2018) received widespread critical acclaim, numerous awards and nominations at the UK Music Video Awards, D&AD, Young Director Award, Camerimage, Kinsale Shark Awards, Epica Awards, Shots Awards, Creative Circle Awards, Ciclope Awards, and Le Club des Directeurs Artistiques. In line with the success of his prior work, his distinct visuals for Madonna's Dark Ballet (2019), and Batuka (2019), has been praised by the likes of Rolling Stone, The Guardian, NME, and Billboard.
Adjei holds a degree in Fine Arts from the Utrecht School of the Arts (NL) and went further to study Film at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent (BE).
Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was merely an image, and he wasted away to death, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection. In that sense, Narcissus symbolizes the one who believes that his mirrored image is an essential part of his identity. The reflections of a piece of glass, as well as the traditionally conveyed beliefs that society has attributed to our “external form”, are the masques we try to reject or confirm on a daily basis.
The relationship with one's identity involves, on one hand, the desire to shape it personally, i.e. by voluntarily putting on our daily masques. And on the other hand it involves the external gaze; the frame that the viewer surrounds us with. With my work, I attempt to emphasize these masques and frames, hopefully making the viewer aware of the shaping process of our identity.