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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why are artists obsessed with the past?


art archive and history

Are artists really obsessed with the past? I think so. I am guilty. I had a similar conversation with a (senior) colleague he was more keen on the future but I was bent on holding to the past. Could the age bracket be one reason for this? But then one would think that since I was younger I would be more focused on the future and vice versa. Had he seen enough of the past and wanted a new experience from the future. Am I bored of the present and want to look back for something new albeit old?
He did share some interesting stories from the past which were very interesting and I probably had no idea about. 

Do you know where sounds like "gbam" came from? This word has now become slang.
From cinemas! Yes! So I learnt that once upon a time cinema houses in Lagos only showed motion pictures without sound so guess what... There was an interpreter and he wasnt interpreting to English oo he just basically made sounds that imitated the action or mouth movements in the film. So remember there was a lot of Bollywood movies. I can't even imagine the experience! Lol!  Na WA!

My obsession with the past began with Hairvolution and since then I have not turned back. If anyone remembers I realised somewhere during that project why I was given the name I bare which I never knew all my life. So in essence, I lacked knowledge about my own self. Immediately after that project I began the "Going back to my roots" collages. From art history to my family history my knowledge of the past is minimal (many young people of my generation are guilty and even worse for the younger generation) and I knew it was very important for me to learn about my past and while not make work with this knowledge?

Another kind of obsession...
Waiting for Beauty...  This is the title of a new drawing series I am working on.
We all use mirrors and the mirror is an important object that is always present when we speak of beauty.  It is only when we look into a mirror that we can judge ourselves and our beauty. The mirror is an object of obsession!
I am interested in this obsession (along with my obsession with hair) which ties into the present but we must look into the past and understand what the mirror stood for and this may may tell us where our self obsession with beauty began. And let's not forget our present day selfies... Yeah! Yeah?!  
The past and the present always meet! 

An object of exchange during slave trade amongst other items, the mirror is a consistent element in this set of drawings I am making.
So is it wrong to focus on the past? No. The past is important if we don't document it, we will loose it forever. What do we teach our children? Especially in a country where archives barely exist, in the future today's art may become our only link to history.

The drawing below measures 45x45.5cm
Graphite pencil, acrylic on drawing paper.

hair mirrors and beauty
waiting for beauty...  By Taiye Idahor (c) 

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