Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Studio Update: Musings and clay

This is my latest drawing from the Feminists musings series as seen from my last blog post, it isn't finished though.

However I do have new work in progress. A hybrid bust of a sort. Since the "change of name" series began in 2010 where it was sparked by the "change of name" pages in newspapers,  where (mostly women) publicly announced their marital status.
"I formerly known as... Now wish to be addressed as... All former documents remain valid...  Take note." 📝
My interest in "transitions" have grown even more, I find this subject quite interesting and enchanting at the same time. How does a person become several people at different circumstances? Its man's ability to adapt to change I guess be it conscious or unconscious. Or it could be through traditional beliefs like reincarnation which I explored in the "Hairvolution" series. With this sculpture series I'm taking a cue from Instagram selfies... pouted lips and tongue out. And there's the face without emotions, eyes closed and un-bothered. I will make another post to articulate my thoughts better, for now here are some photos from the studio

Blogspot isn't great for posting pictures hence the chaos going on right now but thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feminist Musing: Finding your own feminism

In 2012 I had an opportunity to make a contribution this international feminist art journal, n. paradoxa.
 These were my opening and closing lines respectively;
“Am I a feminist? I’m not quite sure.”...
“So am I a feminist? Does this label really matter?”

I am still asking myself this question four years later.
For the past few weeks, I have been conversing with a friend on feminism among other subjects. We talked about women’s rights, women in marriage, cultural expectations of women and some of these conversations were even sparked by my own work. Need to mention, he is feminist.
One day he concluded and said “You’re a feminist”
I responded quite defensively “No I’m not”

The debate went on for a while, days even, but I couldn’t defend my position, I was at loss for words, so says the artist whose work focus mostly on women. I have always refused to associate myself with feminism and I wasn’t going to start now. I regarded feminists as women who were rude, loose, men haters/ bashers, who posted nude photos of themselves for the public, insecure, lonely, you name it! And I didn’t do any of those things so how could I possibly be a feminist? Another reason was because I focused mostly on western feminism and feminists which to be honest I have issues with till now; hence the last thing I wanted was to be associated with feminism.

However I have come to understand that feminism is beyond all of those things, feminism is pretty deep. If a person is any of those things I mentioned above, it’s just because it’s who they are, and not a feminist trait. Feminism differs from place to place and person to person. Different things or situations shape us already as individuals. A single mother who is feminist may not necessarily share the same feminist values with a happily married stay at home wife. Same difference can be seen between an African feminist and one from Europe.

The main umbrella that apparently brings all feminists together is as simply put “equality for both men and women”, after that level, it begins to vary and for the most part even present opposing views on certain matters or subjects. From this point is where I have come to realise that all feminists should accommodate and empathize with each other’s views but not necessarily agree with them (to everyone and their own o).

On a personal note and in trying to find my own feminism, I think roles should not be confused with equality. I think certain roles have come to fit men better than they fit women and vice versa, but it doesn’t mean they are fixed and cannot be interchanged. For example I am a (female) sculptor but it is seen as a masculine profession because of what the job requires, it is a tough job! But it doesn’t mean a woman can’t aspire to it. So to that head of department in Ekenwa campus Benin that refused to allow me pick up the direct entry form that year... thank you oo! . I still studied sculpture anyway! (Sorry I had to veer off and vent.)
Feminism simply means it’s ok to switch roles; roles should not be fixed to one gender. It should be fluid and not be set in stone. My gender should not define what I can and can’t do; only my choice should.

I live in a society that has preconceived expectations of women. Personally to be really honest I am ok with a few of them and this is another reason why I thought I couldn’t possibly be feminist. Let’s take cooking for example. I love to cook and I will most likely treat the kitchen as my territory when I am married. Some feminists may not agree to this but to the person who doesn’t, it is ok, he or she won’t be committing a deadly sin and neither will I. Again everybody and their own o!  But let’s be honest how many men can really cook??? And whose fault is it? For generations girls have been raised to believe this is their role, sons on the other hand are taught other things the kitchen excluded, and even when they have, they are raised to believe that eventually their house girl, sorry wife or girlfriend will do it for them just as they have seen from their parents. (In J. Lo's voice “I ain’t your mama”)

I also found out two things about feminism.  First is that feminism does not apply to women only, it is not gender based; feminism is a state of mind that should be present in both men and women.
Second is that women who are Feminists do not necessarily need be working class executives, rich or independent women; a stay at home wife can be feminist, any woman can be feminist no matter who you are. However being feminist is not an excuse to be rude to people, just thought to add that.

So does it matter if I am a feminist? Yes it does.
By choosing to be feminist, I do not have live under the pressure of society. When I choose to be feminist, it means I will not allow myself to be undervalued outside and most especially within marriage. When I choose to be feminist, I will not accept the norms of society that says it’s ok for a man to cheat and for me to accept it. When I choose to be feminist, I refuse to be hit by a man and still stay for more beating. When I say I am feminist, it means that it’s ok to be unmarried at 32 and that nothing is wrong with me, I don’t have spiritual problems, I don’t need deliverance,  it’s just life happening and my time will come and you will all eat my jollof rice too, but for the mean time, I’ll wait. 

When I say I am feminist, it means it’s ok to live in a house or apartment by myself, not because I can’t stand people but only because I need space to practice my art. When I choose to be feminist, it means I won’t allow anyone to talk me down because I am a woman especially with that disgusting statement “don’t you know you’re a woman!!!?!
When I choose to be feminist it means I treat all my friends the same and not sideline some because they are unmarried as though being unmarried or childless nah disease (so annoying). And if I had chosen to be feminist earlier on in my life, I would have bought that car I had saved up for that year!
Everyone should be feminist more especially Nigerian women so we can teach our sons to be one. So yes I am a FEMINIST.
It is how we choose to express it that makes us different.
All the images on this post are from the new series I started during my “feminist” musings.
Remember when in school if you did something wrong, you are asked to write a statement apologizing or denouncing your bad behaviour, in a hundred or more lines. So this is me telling myself that I am feminist in many many many sentences. The drawings are in charcoal and coloured pen and they represent the conversations I have had with my friends, myself and you as regards feminism. My feminist antennas have been turned on, and I am on that path of finding my own feminism. There are many things to consider on this journey, but it’s an opportunity to find one’s self. 

Coincidentally I read this satire titled HOW TO BE A WOMAN IN NIGERIA by Nigerian writer El Nathan John today and i thought to share it here, 

Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why are artists obsessed with the past?

art archive and history

Are artists really obsessed with the past? I think so. I am guilty. I had a similar conversation with a (senior) colleague he was more keen on the future but I was bent on holding to the past. Could the age bracket be one reason for this? But then one would think that since I was younger I would be more focused on the future and vice versa. Had he seen enough of the past and wanted a new experience from the future. Am I bored of the present and want to look back for something new albeit old?
He did share some interesting stories from the past which were very interesting and I probably had no idea about. 

Do you know where sounds like "gbam" came from? This word has now become slang.
From cinemas! Yes! So I learnt that once upon a time cinema houses in Lagos only showed motion pictures without sound so guess what... There was an interpreter and he wasnt interpreting to English oo he just basically made sounds that imitated the action or mouth movements in the film. So remember there was a lot of Bollywood movies. I can't even imagine the experience! Lol!  Na WA!

My obsession with the past began with Hairvolution and since then I have not turned back. If anyone remembers I realised somewhere during that project why I was given the name I bare which I never knew all my life. So in essence, I lacked knowledge about my own self. Immediately after that project I began the "Going back to my roots" collages. From art history to my family history my knowledge of the past is minimal (many young people of my generation are guilty and even worse for the younger generation) and I knew it was very important for me to learn about my past and while not make work with this knowledge?

Another kind of obsession...
Waiting for Beauty...  This is the title of a new drawing series I am working on.
We all use mirrors and the mirror is an important object that is always present when we speak of beauty.  It is only when we look into a mirror that we can judge ourselves and our beauty. The mirror is an object of obsession!
I am interested in this obsession (along with my obsession with hair) which ties into the present but we must look into the past and understand what the mirror stood for and this may may tell us where our self obsession with beauty began. And let's not forget our present day selfies... Yeah! Yeah?!  
The past and the present always meet! 

An object of exchange during slave trade amongst other items, the mirror is a consistent element in this set of drawings I am making.
So is it wrong to focus on the past? No. The past is important if we don't document it, we will loose it forever. What do we teach our children? Especially in a country where archives barely exist, in the future today's art may become our only link to history.

The drawing below measures 45x45.5cm
Graphite pencil, acrylic on drawing paper.

hair mirrors and beauty
waiting for beauty...  By Taiye Idahor (c) 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Studio Update

Taiye Idahor blog post
the united nations

Good morning!
Long time no post. I have been busy people.
Image Above: Hey I was in France about a week ago for a focus program but I participated as a curator. In short summary of that trip: Nigeria has a looonnnnnggg way to go with art, collecting and not to talk of our museums. Story for another day, this is a studio update!

In the studio I have been working, yes I have and I am looking forward to showing my new work, and I hope I get an opportunity soon.
However I have been trying to finish up (like that will ever happen) with old works. "Finish" used here refers to works I started already ( paper cut, collages made but lacking drawings or paper cut, collage pieces cut but not glued and so it goes) but I just never came around to finish but they will always be ongoing work whether or or not I finish what's on the table.
The work in progress series are as follows;  Ivie series which started in December of 2014 which has now inspired new work.
contemporary African artist
Hybrid series... WIP

Contemporary female artist
shut cut WIP

There is the hybrid series which I absolutely love and that started in 2015. And going way back to Hairvolution my first solo exhibition in 2014 there was an installation called "shut cut" which was ongoing even during the exhibition and still so now (many unanswered questions remain, the void remains).
These are just 3 series and they exclude my new pencil drawings which are broken down into 3 parts again.  One on beauty (I have not given it a name yet) and another called the memory project. With the memory project I am trying to remember things, events, people,  places and so on from growing up. I found that I can't remember a lot of things especially during my teenage years and into my early twenties, there's a memory gap and I kinda suspect the reason why (still thinking about that). The third part is actually just one drawing I started early this year. I seem to make one mark every two weeks, it's been very slow.

Now I have a new project idea and I really want to get most these ones mentioned done at least to a certain extent so I can create room mentally for the new one; studio space is not the issue! And what's more exciting is that it's a sculpture project... I'm excited!  But I need money o!  Resin has almost doubled in price now according to my colleague Niyi (he stopped by yesterday).
The prices of everything has gone up o! Hint...

Also this post is made from my new phone...  I closed my eyes 😡 and got myself a new phone so I hope I can be more faithful with blogging.

Yes that has been my phone for a long time, is it my fault? No light nau! (translation: really bad power cuts, in fact the going rate is 1.5 hours every 3 days)  ask anybody in the shangisha / magodo area it's that bad. So I am grateful for the rain and cool weather,  how man for do?! And I'm keeping the phone!

As we love to say in Nigeria... It is well!
Thank you for reading.