Wura-Natasha Ogunji: Every Mask I Ever Loved
From September 29, 2017 to January 14, 2018, ifa-Galerie Berlin will present In Every Mask I Ever Loved by leading contemporary artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Curated by Eva Barois De Caevel, the exhibition features a series of newly commissioned drawings and performances – including re-creations of Ogunji’s performances; Sweep, The Kissing Mask, and If I loved you – a continuing exploration of the presence of women in both public and private space. Alongside the programme of performances, the exhibition consists of a display of works such as textile masks and video that are instrumental within the performances or act as echoes of it.
Ogunji’s practice – through drawings (comprised of hand-stitched figures on architectural trace paper), video and performance art – 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 has been 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. As she explains, she wanted the land to remember her presence. She has since performed Sweep 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 notions of self-consciousness, intimacy and privacy, and what one could call “the limits of empathy and identification.” (Kathy-Ann Tan, 2016).
Every Mask I Ever Loved aims to question the notion of women’s rights in a postcolonial context; these being still very much defined only by some. It also presents a moment to re-think feminisms transnationally, and acts as a call, as explored by Ogunji, to consider geographic presence and specificity, and individual narratives.
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