Wednesday, September 26, 2018

With our Worlds in Crisis, Evan Moffitt's Frieze review sidesteps the only Woman of Color curator in the 33rd São Paulo Biennial

Lhola Amira's installation
The context:

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It indeed began with a fire. An omission perhaps so common that not even one person on the magazine's editorial team realized the error (or was it intention?). In his review of the 33rd São Paulo Biennial Evan Moffitt takes careful note--and sometimes aim--at six out of the seven artist-curators but mentions not a word about the only woman of color artist-curator, myself.
Wura-Natasha Ogunji
It seems appropriate to begin with this. Wura, my grandmother's name, in Yoruba means precious metal or gold. My last name, Ogunji contains Ogun, the god of Iron and War, present in Nigeria, in West Africa and also making his presence known across the Atlantic, in the Americas, the Caribbean and here in our beloved Brazil as Ogum. Ogunji is a sentence in itself. Ogunji. Ogun wakes up. The god of Iron and War wakes up. Yes, many things in this world begin with fire.
I have always found museums to be amazing and disturbing spaces. Many of their items irreplaceable because the people from which these items originated have long been murdered or disappeared. And not simply in the past, not yesterday, not as part of history's wide open falling backwards continuum, but here, now, today. Yes, Evan, Brazil's National Museum was consumed by fire just as the Bienal opened. And you heard a whisper? For me this event feels much less tragic than the continued murder of indigenous leaders here in Brazil, and certainly all over the world. Jorginho Guajajara.
The act of attention is indeed a revolutionary act. And the political a spring that with certainty becomes a raging river. Begin here.
Lhola Amira
Mame-Diarra Niang
Nicole Vlado
ruby onyinyechi amanze
Wura-Natasha Ogunji
Youmna Chlala
and the one hundred Brazilians who participated in the performance Days of Being Free.
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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

But I am breathing under water (detail), Thread, graphite on trace paper, 2017

Wura-Natasha Ogunji
Curated by Eva Barois De Caevel

ifa-Galerie Berlin

September 29, 2017-January 14, 2018

Opening: 7pm, Thursday, September 28, 2017

Performances
The Kissing Mask, Thursday, September 28, 8pm.
If I loved you, Friday, September 29, 6pm.
Sweep, Saturday, September 30, 3pm
The Kissing Mask, Saturday, January 13, 2pm


In “Every Mask I Ever Loved” Wura-Natasha Ogunji presents a series of newly commissioned drawings, and re-creations of her performances “Sweep”, “The Kissing Mask”, and “If I loved you”, thereby continuing her exploration of the presence of women in both public and private space. The exhibition consists of a display of works that are instrumental within the performances or act as echoes of it.


Through drawings (comprised of hand-stitched figures on architectural trace paper), video and performance, Ogunji explores physicality, endurance and gestures of the body; our relationship to geographical, architectural and filmic space; as well as memory and history. Many of her performances highlight the relationship between the body and social power and presence, investigating how women, in particular, occupy space through both epic and ordinary actions.


Splitting her time between Austin and Lagos, Ogunji was deeply influenced by her experience of living between two countries and, more recently, of residing in Lagos. “Sweep” was originally performed during Ogunji’s first visit to Nigeria: she wanted the land to remember her presence. She has since performed it in different contexts and countries, deepening her thinking about the presence of women within those societies, and exploring the notion of homeland and diasporic identity. “The Kissing Mask” and “If I loved you” are ways to experiment with self-consciousness, intimacy and privacy, and what one could call “the limits of empathy and identification.” (Kathy-Ann Tan, 2016).


Being the exhibition of the third chapter of « Untie to Tie », dedicated to intersectional feminisms, « Every Mask I Ever Loved » wishes to be not a discourse about feminism but an assertion : an existing space for one artist, not « expected to educate […] white people, […] men […] to [her] humanity » (Audre Lorde, 1984), but invited to express what matters to her, freely and creatively.

--Eva Barois De Caevel


Gallery Hours
Tuesday-Sunday, 2–6 pm  
www.untietotie.org

www.ifa.de

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Exhibition Opening: expansion of t i m e

Works by Wura-Natasha Ogunji & Raoul Olawale Da Silva
curated by Sandra Obiago

Exhibition Opening
Saturday, February 25, 2017
2 - 5pm
Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos

February 25-April 28, 2017




Monday, September 07, 2015

The Kissing Mask

The Kissing Mask was first performed at the Seattle Art Museum as part of the opening night of Disguise: Masks and Global African Art curated by Pam McClusky & Erika Dalya Massaquoi.    

The Kissing Mask is a performance inspired by one of ruby onyinyechi amanze's drawings. The drawing is titled:

that low hanging kind of sun, the one that lingers two feet above your head, (never dying) house plants in exchange for your freedom...orchids in exchange for your love, who are you kissing, when you kiss a mask?




I was particularly drawn to this question: who are you kissing, when you kiss a mask? For the performance I have created a mask [which riffs off of amanze's drawing].  I sit on a plinth over the course of the evening and kiss audience members who approach me. These may be cheek, face or lip kisses.



Photograph: John Rudolph


The Kissing Mask reconnects the 'artifact' to the present moment by proposing an intimate act between artist, mask and viewer. As such, this performance complicates and dismantles the mask as sacred object or historical relic by making use of it on a living body [that of the artist/performer]. The performance also becomes a vehicle to speak about what constitues intimacy, touch, and connection. What do we share with and show to our family, friends and strangers? Does a mask offer a space to negotiate that intimacy outside of society's rules? Does the mask come alive only through the audience? Or simply the artist? Or, is it always charged? Do the intentions of the wearer and/or viewer affect the power and pull of the object?

amanze writes further about her drawing:

when i think about kissing a mask i think about kissing something that isn't. something that is blocking you from the thing that you understand is like you. something that is a disguise. but so perfectly, that it's becomes its own thing. a mask is a mask. and it's inanimate 90% of the time. but can be charged in the right hands. or on the right body. i wondered in that drawing about kissing this relic. this stolen, no longer charged representation of africa. kissing it to revive it. kissing it to see what africa tasted like. kissing it because you're in love. with this thing. or with what this thing is trying to be. or is in your head. or none of the above. maybe it was just this woman ghost kissing merman who had on a mask.

In my own work I often use masks to interrupt present time and create space or claim power. The mask is an opening, a way to claim physical, social or liminal space. But, I am also interested in how this particular mask and performance [in true trickster fashion] might simply be 'none of the above', an object completely devoid of the sacred or reverent.


Other work that I am thinking about with regard to this performance includes: James Luna [The Artifact Piece,1986], Tracey Rose [The Kiss, 2001], and Lorna Simpson [Flipside, 1991].

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Monday, March 16, 2015

A drawing-performance with ruby amanze



A drawing-performance with ruby onyinyechi amanze, Feb 21, 2015.  
As part of amanze's exhibition a story. in parts at Tiwani Contemporary.  Read more about the performance and exhibition in ruby's interview with Yvette Gresle. 


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Monday, February 02, 2015

NO SUCH PLACE: Opens February 26, 2015

detail from The Garden, 2015


No Such Place: Contemporary African Artists in America
Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah & Dexter Wimberly 
Opening Reception: February 26, Thursday, 6-8pm
Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery 
37 West 57th Street, NY
February 26-April 3, 2015



featuring: ruby onyinyechi amanze, Modou Dieng, Brendan Fernandes, Derek Fordjour, SherinGuirguis, Vivienne KoorlandWura-Natasha Ogunji, and AdejokeTugbiyele

Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art announces No Such Place: Contemporary African Artists in America curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah and Dexter Wimberly, a group exhibition that highlights recent work by nine contemporary African artists living and working in the United States.
The exhibition’s curators, Larry Ossei-Mensah and Dexter Wimberly, seek to initiate a nuanced discussion about "Africaness" in the context of contemporary culture. By including multi-generational artists from African countries as varied as Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, they seek to further debunk the idea of Africa as a singular, monolithic "place". The exhibition highlights artists who express cultural duality and punctuates the complexities of African identity.

In stating, "There is no such thing as contemporary African art – there is only contemporary art from Africa,” Bisi Silva, independent curator and founder/director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria warns against generic geographical descriptions of art from a continent that is so vast and diverse. Taking a cue from Silva’s significant statement, No Such Place investigates the overlapping signifiers and great diversity present in these particular artists’ work, providing a space that fosters a broader dialogue about culture, aesthetics, religion and politics. No Such Place dives into artistic intuition, exploring how these nine artists process identity and represent their individual points of view.

According to Nahem "There is a new and talented wave of artists emanating from all corners of the rich cultural tapestry known as Africa. We are excited to share in this exploration of contemporary work from a small group of artists from the diaspora, whose diversity lends itself to age, gender, roots and geography. Their new world is ideally one that opens us up to our own concept of the newness of Africa today. We are excited to provide such a forum and hopefully to be a meeting ground and catalyst for its growth and dissemination."

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