The Restorative Power of Documentation
With Adeola Olagunju, Jumoke Adeyanju, Matthew Blaise, and Monilola Ilupeju
A conversation on knowledge (tangible, intangible, and non-western), knowledge transfer, archiving, exposure, and isolation for black artists in the diaspora, as well as resilience organizing and self-empowerment.
A Wa Nibi’s main objective as a project is to document and celebrate the use of language as a tool of expression, information, and resistance, from the interpersonal to the sociocultural sphere in Nigeria’s queer community, and Africa as an extension.
As language is also relational, the exchange between Queer Nigerian or African artists in the diaspora is vital. Collectivism is a tool for our empowerment, one that colonial settlers destroyed by sowing divisions and instilling the individualism rewarded in today’s global capitalist society. Queer Africans are hungry for knowledge about our histories. If we are going to have an accessible history tomorrow, it has be be created today.
The panel is moderated by Jumoke Adeyanju, multilingual writer, curator and dancer and allround artist. Matthew Blaise, will be chiming in with their activism experience and how we can mobilize change with art. Adeola Olagunju’s practice is in video, sound, photography, and drawing. Her practice explores he Self, memory, spirituality, healing, and the social landscape. While Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju will share her experience on confronting the insidious and generative qualities of distortion that are projected onto bodies.
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú is an artist working with photography, video, sound, and installations. Much of her artistic work has involved considerations of the Self, memory, spirituality, healing, and the social landscape. Her works have been shown in festivals, museums, and galleries in many countries. She has been the recipient of prizes and awards, notably NRW.BANK Kunstpreis 2021, Seydou Keïta Grand Prize for the Best photographic creation at Bamako International Biennial for Photography in 2019, Young Arts Support Amsterdam Award in 2013, and the Lagos Photo Festival Award in 2012. In addition, Ọlágúnjú was a finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative in 2019 and the selected mentee of the photography category at the 5th Edition of Forecast Platform (2020-2021).
Jumoke Adeyanju is an interdisciplinary multilingual writer, curator and dancer. Under her alias mokeyanju, she occasionally performs as a vinyl selector and aspiring sound artist. Jumoke is the founder of The Poetry Meets Series [est. 2014], co-curator of Sensitivities of Dance and hosts her radio show Sauti ya àkókò as well as the weekly Breakfast Show on Refuge Worldwide.
Her multidimensional sound, words and movement art has been commissioned by MARKK Museum Hamburg, NCAI Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, Dak'Art Biennale 2022, LagosPhoto 2022, Arthouse Foundation Lagos, AAF African Artists Foundation Lagos, Image Afrique Basel, African Crossroads Mombasa, CUNY NYC, Kölnischer Kunstverein and Deutschlandfunk Kulturs Klangkunst amongst others. She has presented her artistic works at international literary festivals performing in English, German, Kiswahili and Yorùbá. Jumoke's poetry and translation work was published as part of the anthology "Kontinentaldrift: Das Schwarze Europa" (ed. Fiston Mwanza Mujila) in 2021 and "The 1619 Project" by Nikole Hannah-Jones. In 2022, her first Sci-Fi short story “77. Weltstille", was published in the anthology “Kollaps und Hope Porn: 13 Zukunftsaussichten” by Maro Verlag. As an allround-artist, Jumoke’s approach touches on topics like diaspora nostalgia, memory, spiritual liminal spaces, sonic tonalities, and how various elements of expressive art forms interrelate and incorporate the potential to (re-)create moments of reviving other or displaced selves. Recently, Jumoke Adeyanju exhibited her sound-based ‘dreams’ research project OTA -outreaching transfigurative alterations at Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute in Kenya.
Matthew Blaise is a passionate and dedicated non-binary queer activist who has devoted their life to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Through public speaking, community organizing, and political activism, Matthew has made a an imprint on the lives of countless individuals, helping to create a more inclusive and accepting world. Matthew has received several awards and accolades in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. They won the SOGIESC activist of the year award in 2020, the 2021 MTV EMAs Generation Change award, and they have been nominated for The Future Awards Africa, the DAZED 100, and The Diversity and Difference prize. Among other prestigious international media outlets and publications, they have also been featured in Vogue, Ze.tt, ZDFheute, Out Magazine, PinkNews, Time, Bloomberg, and Channel4News. They head an innovative and passionate team at Òbòdò, a youth-focused queer organization advancing queer education and rights in Nigeria.
Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju
Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju is a Nigerian-American artist and author based in Berlin. She graduated with distinction from New York University, where she studied studio art and social and cultural analysis. She is also an alumna of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Through painting, installation, moving image, writing, and performance, her practice confronts the insidious and generative qualities of distortion that are projected onto bodies. As she works through intimate subject matter, she also interrogates the broader political contexts from which these issues arise. She has done extensive curatorial and editorial work with SAVVY Contemporary and Archive Books, among others. Earnestly (2022, Archive Books) is her debut collection of writing.
Recent solo exhibitions include Gymnasia, A plus A Gallery, Venice, (2023), Hands Full of Air, Galerie im Turm, Berlin (2020); and Eve of Intuition, The Institute for Endotic Research (TIER), Berlin (2020). Ilupeju has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, including non playable character, School for Curatorial Studies Venice & The Fairest, Venice (2022), my whole body changed into something else, Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg (2021), where will i be buried, Flux Factory, New York (2020), and Queer Intimacy and States of Emotions, Human Resources, Los Angeles (2019).