I once lived in a city called Essen in Germany. It was a quiet city. Many people will debate that but the silence in Essen had a haunting quality to it. I could hear everything so clearly. I could hear myself. Taking a walk and observing nature was one of my core rituals, these walks I sometimes take in a cemetery nearby the house I lived. It was a different way of being and before Essen, an evening walk in a cemetery is almost unthinkable. I came across a writing on one of the tombstones „Der tod ist das tor zum leben” (Death is the gate to life). It drew me into further contemplation of an idea that fascinates but also unsettles me–Death. I am interested in not just the material body dying but also symbolic death and death as a multiple event.
In Yorùbá cosmology, life is cyclical–with death comes rebirth/re-incarnation. ÌYÁBỌ̀ is a Yorùbá name given when there is a new birth after a recent death within a clan. It is believed that someone or something has returned in another form. This film chronicles the non-linear pre-birth to maturation journey of a person, it looks into chaos as something generative or productive by employing it as a force of evolution. It invites a new way of gazing at chaos and destruction beyond the known paradigm.
Born Throw Way!
Born throw way! is a multimedia installation featuring video, photography, sound and illustrations printed on fabric. This project explores the community of loosely organized street gangs in Lagos, Nigeria known as “Area Boys”. By delving into the subculture and counterculture, I examine the symbolic approaches to humans-as-waste and how the social is ascribed a corporeality so an “Other” is cast as polluting, expendable and rendered “matter out of place” or Abject. My interest lies in interpreting the self-other dimension of interactions in the city of Lagos where the violence of structural marginalisation is seen as a positive means of social purification.
I looked intimately at the day-to-day lives of the “Boys” and their generative use of self-created language, expressions and slangs to consolidate, promote and reinforce their ideological interests. Likewise, the improvised and unofficial realms they occupy and the power structures that sustains their ecosystem.
The collective identity of “Area boys” is also explored through fabrics and clothing, this is rooted in the ideology and the age-long practice of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Here, the fraternity that exists among wearers of “and co” (which means uniform) is belonging, acceptance and community–––no matter how transient. The creation of the uniform for this project was collaboratively achieved between myself as the artist and the subjects in my work. While I selected the fabric, the “Boys” chose the tailor and influenced the style which was made, this co-creative dialogue preserves their personal agency and authority over how they want to be seen and presented.
Born throw way! is a Nigerian Pidgin English loosely translated: A child that is born and thrown away. Someone who is rejected from the family or societal structure or anyone whose life transgresses against the popular norm.
Born Throw Way! was developed within the framework of Forecast
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú © 2020-2021
This project explores dance as a tool for physical and spiritual self expression. It delves into the role of dance in communicating, purging and healing lived experiences. By tapping into bodily knowledge one gets in touch with the surroundings not only as spaces to be explored but also to perceive how one is simultaneously influenced and moulded by them. To be in movement is to generate a series of shifts manifested through the flow of familiar motions, unpredictable processes and somatic expressions via the wordless medium of the body. The material body then becomes a conduit for intangible and affective dimensions of being made known on a physical level.
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú & Nyancho Nwari © 2020
This project engages with an abandoned building in the city of Gelsenkirchen. My interests are in looking at the meanings that the space assumes in this period of abandonment or in-betweenness. Particularly, the relationship that exists between the space and its transient occupants and also the attributes of each of these entities that creates this relationship. How a building, stripped of its normality takes up a new identity by becoming a fluid space that supports individual subjectivities or projections.
At the core of my interest is the concept of Abjection as a way of looking into spatial bodies, (architecture in decline) liminality and motion in relation to human bodies.
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú © 2019
Life is a journey is a conventional metaphor that derives its vitality from the fact that it
closely fits the fundamental physical experience of space and time.
As long as human beings have walked, have travelled from or to, they have interpreted
their lives in terms of travel, quest, passage, voyaging, pilgrimage, exile, homelessness,
homecoming, wandering, sojourning, etc.
Pilgrimage explores the metaphorical movement of individual human in space and in
state, the transitions from profane to the sacred space and back.
A sacral separation or detach-ment from the ordinary that leads to an ambiguous
‘outsider’ status and an in-between phase of ambiguity – a walking in the margins termed
‘liminality’. Unlike religious traditions, there is no destination.
The journey remains in-wards and out-wards.
Poetry by: Kaleo Sansa
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú © 2018
This two channel video explores the human body as the terrain vague.
I looked at the materialities of motion and emotion, drawing on railway commute experiences of people in Lagos Nigeria.
Observing the mundane and seemingly eventless, the focus is on the interplay between material infrastructures of movement and emotional mindscapes.
How did feelings of anxiety, boredom and euphoria surface in situations of waiting or daydreaming?
The body, in the event of transition between public realms and private ones generates ultimately networks of in-between spaces, this act of transition redefines limits in space.
Thus, the in- between embraces not only notions as openness, porosity, breach and relationship, but also those of process and transformation.
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú © 2017
Ẹsẹ̀ Gìrì Gìrì (Clusters)
We have been here before.
The sun rises, sets and hurries around to rise again.
The wind blows south, north, here and there twisting back and forth. The rivers runs into the sea, the sea is never full.
No matter how much we see the eyes are never satisfied.
I apply myself to search for an understanding of the trails set or left behind; the rush, the runs, the waiting, the fall, and the journeys to the unknown made by our feet.
History merely repeats itself.
“Ese Giri Giri – Clusters” is an expression of my encounters, interests, curiosities and personality.
Time passes, generations go, others come – the earth remains. The endless wearisome cycle repeats itself. We, like the river roll and keep rolling. The end of all our exploration brings us back to the beginning.
Back where we started.
Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú © 2014