Betwixt and Between Worlds 2023
Each work was composed of various images of Ama (my maternal grandmother whose image I have used in various artworks), her parents (using photos from the late 1800s), my mother (using photos from the 1960s), my adult eyes, colonial maps, a ‘Times’ newspaper cutting titled “The Scramble for Africa” September 1884 (published months before the Berlin conference, which opened in November of that year), and colonial texts from the performances of ‘Into the Mind of the Coloniser’.
The works are embellished with 24 carat gold leaf (referencing the exploitation of Gold Coast minerals), ink mixed with watercolour skin paint made from the discarded skin of a caucasian male art professor called Paul Haywood, and pigment made from discarded guns (both materials made at Col Arts lab in collaboration with Mr Haywood) to hint at the violence of colonialism. The images appear ghostly, like spectres from the past and the colours are vibrant. I wanted to alchemic(ally) use colourful and beautiful mixtures of elements which hinted at violence and destruction in order to allude to the complexities of our colonial past.
I have used gold leaf and overlapping of images to make geometric patterns and shapes using lines and triangles in these works. The symbolism of triangles, power, stability and femininity are self explanatory. I am much more interested in what those experiencing the artworks see and feel.
Rites of Passage,
March 16- April 29 2023
Gagosian Gallery, London
These works were included in Rites of Passage at Gagosian in 2023. Curated by Péjú Oshin, Associate Director at Gagosian London, the exhibition featured work by nineteen contemporary artists who share a history of migration. From the Gagosian website:
Rites of Passage explores the idea of “liminal space,” a coinage of anthropologist Arnold van Gennep (1873–1957). In his 1909 book, after which the exhibition is titled, Van Gennep was among the first to observe that the transitional events of birth, puberty, marriage, and death are marked by ceremonies with a ritual function that transcends cultural boundaries. Highlighting this phenomenon in physical, mental, and spiritual arenas, Oshin’s exhibition challenges linear narratives through works in a variety of mediums, which fill Gagosian’s expansive Britannia Street gallery.
Rites of Passage is structured in correspondence with liminality’s three stages: separation, transition, and return. Each of these phases addresses the act of movement, not only through individual experience, but also in the broader context of community. The exhibition examines the status of postcolonial Black identity, specifically the “triple consciousness” experienced by members of the African diaspora when encountering counterparts who identify with local majority populations. The artists in the exhibition are further grouped together according to themes of tradition, spirituality, and place.
Photos: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. Courtesy Gagosian.