Thursday, July 9, 2015

Timeline, a group exhibition of sculptures, prints, collages and drawings opens in Johannesburg

The group art exhibition that includes myself, Neo and Usha (photo below) marking the end of our residency at the bag factory opened last last night.

L-R : Taiye Idahor, Neo Matloga and Usha Seejarim (The other exhibiting artists)

Theme: Timeline

Here are more work in progress photos as well as well as images of the final work.

So i didn't get good photos of my other works that are also showing so I'll have to make another post for that.

Enjoy and do leave a comment below...


Title: The day we are born is the day we begin to die
Medium: steel wool

Steel wool

 Thanks for stopping by!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Timeline opens this Wednesday... You're Invited

Dear all,

You're invited to the exhibition Timeline
Opens Wednesday 8th July 2015
At the Bag Factory Studios 10 Mahlathini Street Fordsburg Newtown

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Photo Update from my residency in Johannesburg...

This is a photo update of my work/ project so far at the bag factory residency.
It's been a great experience experimenting with new materials in this case wire wool and getting myself to draw again.

This must have been from my first few weeks here

This is actually just about 2 weeks ago after several experiments with wire wool as you can see on the table

Creating the structure for the main sculpture from pipes and Styrofoam 

Attaching the wire wool

 So far so good...

Bini Proverb: Ants cannot get into a tree to eat it if there's no hole in it

Now that isn't the final work, I'll be showing that once the show opens but before then I'll share some more work in progress photos.

The final show opens next week Wednesday, more details in next post!
Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When something Dies...

It’s exactly two weeks today I arrived Johannesburg South Africa for an artist residency at the Bag Factory located in Newtown. The recent xenophobic attacks have made everyone edgy but so far all seems good.
this image was take on my first day at the studio

My studio at the Bag Factory is pretty empty, very little happening. I cannot say I am completely settled but I have been around town, trying to find my bearing, gallery hopping for most of it, from Momo to Goodman, to Everead Read, Circa,  Harzard, the Wits gallery and one I can’t pronounce hence can’t spell. My best so far has to be the solo exhibition at Everead Read by artist Deborah Bell, it was an amazing experience and the group exhibition Intersections showing at the UNISA art gallery Pretoria.

The sculpture (with sound) installation at Everead Read Gallery

To do List...
Creating art is about learning to live within or to occupy existing narratives as opposed to trying to create one’s own and I doubt it’s even possible to do so.
My new series “Ivie” will be explored while I am here.  Beads are found within most African cultures, they take different forms and colours as one crosses borders. South Africa is one of those countries with colourful bead work, one style or form is common among zulu brides hence through this similar bead structure with the Bini brides from Nigeria, the discussion and examination of roles of women can therefore cross into this new space I am occupying.

As with residencies I attend, I like to use them as an opportunities to try new techniques and new materials. It is definitely a chance to experiment and I intend to do a lot of that.

So “When something Dies”...
Between Hairvolution and the Ivie series, one consistent element has been voids and absence, so as I think of something dying, I want to contemplate a void or absence, initiate a process of dying that will lead to a void.

One main feedback I received on Hairvolution was on the temporality of the materials I used (paper, ink jet print although fixed, newsprint) I tried to explain that temporality is a major component in the concept and development of the project (life and memories) hence it spilled into the materials I used. Since then I have been curios about this idea of something dying, allowing a death to occur rather than trying to save it, and how do we deal with this loss when it occurs?? I don’t know...

I have been thinking about initiating a project that starts and ends, not ending instantly but as time passes. My project at the Salzburg academy took a similar route but time wasn’t a factor in its termination as I had the work thrown away so it got a more instant ending. (I was sad about that)
I am interested in the subject of life and the cycle of starting and ending but not only with materials but the intangible, memories...
Memories have a beginning, initiated by an event or object (maybe or sometimes), but where does a memory start and where does it end? when a life is gone? But then it can begin again in and through another life or person. When I think about this, I also think about Ayie, and I taking on my father’s memories. I remember I said something in one of those posts on Ayie about choosing what memories are released but often times many memories go to the grave.

My interest here is in that start and end,  the forms they take as they move from host to host and how they begin another life in a new place or body, time becoming a major factor in this performance of life. Also I am thinking about the materiality of what is left over in the process, if any remains. I want to create a work and watch it die while I observe its life... a performance, thinking think thinking...

Anyway enough said, I haven’t figured it all out, if you are in Johannesburg feel free to holla or stop by at the Bag factory, I am here till July.
Before I forget, I have gotten a few “is this your hair” questions but not like Lagos (I do not exaggerate when I say I get it every day I step out of my house in Lagos). Population is probably one reason but there’s something about Nigerian women and their connection to hair...

I also met friends from  last year Asiko (Dakar)
Kitso and Dana, beautiful people.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

“WOMAN” claim your title!

I started the Ivie series last year when I got an opportunity to participate in a very elaborate and important cultural exhibition in the ancient city of Benin city Nigeria, which happens to be where I am from (both my parent are from Benin). So you can understand my excitement to be a part of this exhibition. Coincidentally, my twin sister was having her traditional wedding ceremony on the same day in Benin at our family home, so I couldn't be at the opening of the exhibition.

My Installation in Benin city, Igun street (home of bronze casting) Each measure 28x35.5cm

About Ivie...
I did include a short synopsis on my work which you can find here on its website but I think it is important for me to expand on the project here on my blog. It got me thinking recently and the project still continues to grow in my studio.
A few weeks ago, there was an incident here in Lagos about a kidnapping of 3 children by a nanny that was hired online story here. People went wild on social media about the irresponsibility of the parents but more specifically they blamed the mother, which is the case most times when it comes to children, the woman takes the blame. So I have been thinking, did she deserve the backlash she got from Nigerians at that time?

How does Ivie relate to this...
Ivie means “beads” in the bini language and it is a symbolic and very important ornament both in the palace and among the people of Benin and even with many other cultures across Nigeria. Today one can rarely find real coral beads, because plastics have begun to replace them, but this isn't my point, but rather to show the huge interest in beads especially by brides, as it is a compulsory necessity for almost every traditional wedding bride, whether it is real or fake.

But my story begins from the palace...
Everyone knows the FESTAC 77 mask


This particular image of the Queen Idia pendant is from the book above by Barbara Plakensteiner (Editor), O.J. Eboreime (Foreword)

This pendant is representative of “Iyoba”, meaning queen mother or the mother of the king. The story goes that Queen Idia the only woman believed to have gone to war in ancient Benin had helped her son Oba Esigie defend his throne and kingdom and as a form of gratitude, he created the second most important and powerful title in the Benin Kingdom the “Iyoba of Benin”. She is the only one after the Oba that has her own palace, and her own attending chiefs. She is basically the second most important person in Benin city. To this day Iyoba Idia is still remembered especially because of the popularity of the pendant above and yes the title still exists today and is still is just as important and as powerful.

Just before this project I had met a woman priest through my mum (we didn’t go for sacrifice oo, she is a family friend to my mum), I was pretty shocked to see her as women don’t usually occupy such positions. She had her house and guards and her own throne and you must kneel to greet her.
Benin is not exactly a city where women are confirmed with such power and voice hence my later interest in the Iyoba title. The history of Benin is visible in its arts and it is quite obvious that women are absent in the sculptures of Benin not until the Iyoba title came about, then we started to see carvings of different queen mothers from different decades or centuries. Although at present the position has been empty and it may remain so even after a new king ascends the throne after the present king; long story! (I can address that another time).

Back to the Kidnapped kids...
Do women really belong at home? Iyoba Idia played this role too well hence her title. Should women work? What is the role of women in the 21st century?
In this Ivie project, the beads are symbolic of the title of “Woman”, there is an absence or void left within the beads. It is a question, or an interest, a search for who will fill this title or position and how?  
As we are confirmed with this title of “Woman”, what is our role? What are our duties as daughters, mothers, wives, aunties, grandmothers etc.
It’s a curiosity, I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer. The 21st century life is different and it may be unfair to compare Iyoba Idia with a 21st century woman but a woman is a woman and the genes remain.

My thoughts... Don't judge!
I like to think I’m old school and I am also Christian, so I PERSONALLY feel that (especially) when children are involved, a woman has an obligation and duty as a parent and as a mother to take care of her family and besides it’s in our DNA to care and nurture and raise a child or children. Too many women have abandoned their “Woman” title, seeking other things and other titles. Priorities have become misplaced. As mothers, I think a child should be a priority and it isn't an impossible task to work and raise a child. Our mothers did it, at least mine did. She worked but she was home as well, never grew up with a nanny and my mum had 11 of us. Yes 11!! Oba Esigie's mother too, she was a warrior! 

I have friends who do it and I know others who have made their families their priority and forsaken the white collar job. Are they wrong to do that? No.
Its a choice we must all make as women, but we must be aware of the consequences of our choices and be ready to face them.

As I make these markings with my pen that look like hair, I am imagining how I can fill this title as “Woman” and considering how much of it am I occupying at the moment.
The Ivie series will continue to pose such questions about the 21st century woman in Africa.

These new ones measure 60x84cm

Monday, March 16, 2015


Dear all,

Let me first say a very happy new year to you all since this is my first post of the year. 2014 ended on a great and positive note hence I am excited and enthusiastic about what 2015 will bring.

In the last two years, I began to devote the first month or two of a new year away from the studio, first to rest, reboot and then think about the months to follow. i am also learning to read more, well after hairvolution, it seems I have become more curious, and now I have more than enough questions unanswered.

Hairvolution took me on a search, a search for identity of my grandmother, then of myself. Now my curiosity beckons knowledge on man’s hybrid form, what is cultural hybridity?

Here is what I am reading at the moment:

Olu Oguibe’s culture Game is enlightening, it is basically a compilation of different papers he has written and presented in the past so the topics vary which makes the subject matter of the book not coherent, not withstanding because of its diversity on issues, it is a very handy book. I am presently reading the chapter titled Medium, Memory, Image and so far it discusses our obsession with memory ( my generation is guilty) compared to the generations who wanted to forget ( the amnesia generation) and how these impact on the art we make. Still reading...

The cute green book courtesy Asiko 2014 is very handy!! I think every artist should have a copy, great work Nana! Do you ever wonder what some famous and popular artists and creative people are reading? What informs their thoughts and their work? Yep that’s “An Ideal Library”.

I got that Manisfesta journal last year also courtesy Asiko, thank you CCA. Never really read it until now, you know how you flip through a book but never remember anything you read, that was what I did before but now based on the questions running through my mind, this is one to read. I was particularly drawn to the conversation between  Raima Gbadamosi and John Akomfrah.
Also somewhere in this hybrid phase, I read a bit of Senghor and watched the film Touki Bouki (please who has one with an English subtitle?)

Black skin, white Masks: wellll... I was only interested in chapter 3 titled The Man of Colour and the White Woman.

The book on Hair: for the pictures...

Now this magazine, I recommend this to every artist. The problem of the language of art: apparently this has been an issue for a very long time and Demas Nwoko ( Editor) tried to use this medium to alert artists into changing the language (idiom) of their art and not the art form itself, which a lot of artists are doing today, it's an amazing publication and still relevant today. This particular issue is dated 1978!!!!!

For this book and the others, you can visit the CCA, Lagos Library.

By and by I am excited about this year and I look forward to showing you some new work. But here is something I have started with as I deal on hybridity or the hybrid form.

Pen and collage drawing
11 x 14 inches

Thank you for reading!