This week marks the start of a new chapter for G.A.S. as we usher in our second year of programming. The first resident to join us on this journey is UK-based visual artist and recent Royal College of Art graduate Okiki Akinfe. Eager to immerse herself in the ecosystem, Okiki intends to harness the library's resources to delve into Yoruba culture, augmenting her exploration by visiting pertinent locales in Lagos. An innovative aspect of her stay involves the exploration of sourcing and crafting natural pigments, utilizing locally available materials.
Seeking meaningful engagement, Okiki aspires to connect with archivists, researchers, and academics specializing in Yoruba history, culture, symbolism, folklore, and mythology. With a commitment to enriching Lagos' cultural tapestry, she plans to orchestrate critique sessions for young artists in the hope that they will facilitate networking opportunities whilst fostering a platform for advice, support, and camaraderie within their peer community.
Rabbits, (2023), Oil on Linen.
What is the current focus of your creative practice?
The current focus of my creative practice is to create a new body of work in response to my satirical archival essays. The main purpose of these essays is to subvert the narrative of how Black existence is discussed within a white gaze. I plan to use the residency to explore the idea of “world-building”, focussing on a perspective, without involving other gazes, attempting to create (fiction-ing) an alternative to the conventional Western archive, encompassing 'The Black lens', my own subversive tool towards avoiding stereotypes by demonstrating their absurdity. This will be explored in looking in new themes of quiet and assertiveness.
What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?
I was excited for the opportunity to situate myself in Lagos and to accept the influence of the city, its people, and the culture itself. I'm also interested in investigating the idea of self as a cultural landscape. I am interested in exploring the threads that helped me visualize Lagos and the UK, and asking what it means to not just passively study ideas of Black mundanity or Black reality but to engage with these notions in a meaningful way that is respectful to the environment.
Then I Will Grind His Bones to Make My Bread (2023), Oil and Oil bar on Linen
Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?
I plan to engage with the G.A.S Foundation library and the galleries and museums of Lagos to further my research within the context of Black mundanity or Black reality. For me, Black mundanity, simply means a distinct perspective of existence revolving around themes of quiet, and silence, as explored in The Sovereignty of Quiet, by Kevin Quashie.
Okiki Akinfe (b. 1999) is a London-based artist whose painting practice focuses on imagining an alternative to the conventional Western archive by encompassing othered experiences and foregrounding 'the Black lens', a subversive tool (of her own creation), that works towards avoiding stereotypes by demonstrating their absurdity. The figures in her paintings are rendered in various stages of visibility and exist on their own terms within a non-social and geographical space paused in their own time agency, resting, in perseverance of time.
This residency is supported by our Residency Patron Programme.