Sunday 10 March 2024

How Orimolade created thematic waves with '4939', 'Lagos Biennale'

IN the art hub of Lagos Island, where a major solo exhibition and biennial, held within 3.5 kilometres distance apart, it was a rare double for one artist. 

Odun Orimolade, the artist at the centre of the two events showed art rich in themes, presenting waves of installation and performance. At each of the event, she caused more than a stir, starting with her solo exhibition titled 4939, at kó Gallery, and 'stealing the show' of the Lagos biennale 2024, at Tafawa Balewa Square, in Ikoyi, Lagos Island.

At the Private Preview of 4939, early in the first week of February, 2024, Orimolade stunned visitors in a body of body of work that continues to explore unseen spaces, spatial dimensions, and super fluidity as a site for the implosion and explosion of plausibility. The artist explained  in the cont xt of of story. In relation to navigation and experience absorption, questioning questions, noting that looking beyond the nose are important. 

She had more to expand on her thoughts what determines space to tell story: "A story space in which one must grasp the sails and follow the tide. It is probable to think maybe what we learn about the universe through our senses and scientific tools could be a spectacular illusion, it is so sophisticatedly expansive we cannot definitively prove its truth."

On the four-figure uniqueness of the exhibition's title, Orimolade attempted to unravel the complexity of the future, perhaps, venture into the unseen. "The universe's three-dimensionality, is something we take for granted, some theories propose an additional spatial dimension that we cannot perceive directly or in a perpendicular direction," she said in her Artist Statement. "4939 explores the matrix of the unseen, familiarity and its impact on our navigation."

Stating that the generative expanse of infinity and myriad of possibilities can simply be called ‘Wonderful’ in the spread of the nines, Orimolade explained that the number 9, the last before the double digits infers a sense of roundedness that is not exactly a completeness with its unique properties. 

And why is the placement so crucial to the thematic energy of the exhibition? "It is placed in a position of returning or closing cycles, closing stories and opening them. In Yoruba worldview the translation of the numerology infers to turn in outcome, consequence, interchange or switch. It plays on a notion that proffers transformation as well as reciprocity. It offers a cosmological configuration that heralds broader perspectives. This concept of expanded perspectives fits into the correspondence theory, where the plausible reigns."

 Few days after receiving an impressive turn out of guests at the opening of 4939, Orimolade 'harrased' audience with her presentation of Onipon at Lagos Biennial 2024, held inside the  historic Tafawa Balewa Square. In just 7 minutes drive from 4939, the artist presented a coalescence of art and mythology! She told visitors that Onipon delves into  exploring spaces of the mind as well the multiplicity faced in the transitions and challenges of socio-political influences, as these factors affect the navigations of the regular individual, on the race towards survival. 

In performance, the artist's application of colours in artistic presentation of the theme, using the masquerade.edium was thrilling. What's the central focus of 'Onipon? "It touches on human experience of seeking safety and refuge, both physically and psychologically, particularly now with the mass migration of the middle class and intellectual base," Orimolade stated.  "It encompasses a range of issues related to displacement and asylum in a wide context that attend to issues of the liminal, trauma, and uncertainty."

Excerpts from Orimolade's Artist Statement:

"The performance action draws on the viscosity of tension in the emotional and psychological impact of sanctuaries for individuals and communities. Sanctuary from situations invites ideology that necessitates empathy and forms of altruism which are rare commodities that challenge perspectives of hope. Spaces of refuge become poetic impasses that pull heavily on the elasticity of the mind in that leap from trauma to safety in whatever type of scenario. 

"Mechanisms of hybridization flood thought systems within survival mode of apprehending concepts of refuge. These venture into a range of strategies that outwardly permeate a myriad of issues such as social structures, livelihood, belief systems, and cultural practices, among several others. The Onipon performance involves a moving mutation of a myriad of selves as multiples of a unit propelled in responsive intuition in migration from points. These involve sondering social desires that might sit at the intersection of respite and protection.

Installation during Odun Orimolade's 4939 at kó Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos. 

"The performance involves volunteering of a hundred costumed participants as mutations of the self in multiplicity transitioning within the environs of the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos and existing structure and installations, from one navigational point to another. The number hundred signifies positive completeness and wholeness of the multiple self. It leans into centrality and expansion of the unit and the representation of the many as one.

"Onipon references the elasticity of the human mind, like a rubber band, when subjected to pressures of refuging. It explores how the human psyche adapts, and copes with the ideals of sanctuary. The human mind has the capacity to adapt its cognitive and emotional responses to external stressors which allows the navigation of uncertainty of refuge with a degree of flexibility, transforming pressure into multiplicity of the self. Cognitive resilience plays a pivotal role in the elasticity of the mind. The mind, much like a resilient material, can return to its original state after being stretched, demonstrating its remarkable capacity to endure and recover.

Separating Yoruba religious tradition from Isese

Translucent S.I. Media management agency for artists and art galleries

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