supported by Mondriaan Funds
This is a filmic and sculptural research project exploring fragments of contemporary East African diasporic lives through a metaphoric invocation of a winnower. Likening the act of winnowing chaff from grain to the way scientific and informal knowledge sifts away from the diasporic body.
By utilising a geographically sensitive mode of field research, captured through film; the project seeks to make relations with various bodies while exploring the slippery ways in which personal and collective histories are invoked, erased and re-contextualised.
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ODERO & THE WEEPING TOTEM
Material Context, Het Archief, Rotterdam, 2021
Installation overview: Hand dyed textile, latex, wood, HD video on 2 monitors, 2D framed work
Photo credit: Studio Wolphi & Ayo
supported by African Culture Fund
This is a research project investigating the archival capacity of unofﬁcial bodies in preserving intangible cultural heritage. In its form and content, the project navigates how such ephemeral embodied knowledge can nourish a contemporary artistic practice. The title was borrowed from the cultural practice of Ikoce; which through my research, historically functioned as entertainment, social commentary and cultural emblem for Lango society in Northern Uganda.
The relevance of Ikoce’s cultural-social-political legacy to Ugandan history and wider geographies was unpacked in my thesis, Symbolic Resonance —written in an experimental mode of ﬁctional storytelling drawn from anthropological publications, oral poetry and ﬁeld research among other sources.
In a speculative mode of address, I looked into Ikoce’s organisation, performance attire and oral poetry; proposing its formation as a transgressive act of resistance against the heavy drafting of Lango men into the King’s African Riﬂes; to ﬁght for the British Empire during World War II.
The out come of my research manifested into video work, sculpture, sound and performance. In my video work Ikoce: Volume I, I employ an experimental montage and narration to collapse the boundaries of fact and ﬁction while attempting to humorously tap into the memory and riddle of Ikoce among residents of a small nondescript town in Northern Uganda.
My sculptural works (Abjects II & Record) are imbued with symbols and gestures drawn from a dance notation based on the last recorded performances of Ikoce in the 1990s. The dance notation (5 pieces) multi-purposely serves as a record and invitation for performers to collectively conjure, re-invent, inscribe and enjoy the legacy of Ikoce while making relations with various bodies across different geographies and time.
BRAID ANOTHER DAY SALON 0031202240707
AYO’s Braid Another Day Salon poster provides a window to an audible anthology exploring African diasporic traditions of gathering through the microcosmic craft and trading held within domestic makeshift hair salons. These charcoal drawings also pay an homage to vintage DIY salon posters made in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and other West and East African countries. The audible work consists of three anecdotal chapters: Don’tTouch [My Hair], The Curious Case of CindyStephanieJessica, and Chants 4 Braiding.**1 Each of these is interlaced and punctuated by experimental sounds pushing the experience of hearing. In addition, it has the listener witness the unlikely aspects of togetherness, kinship and embodied craft.
*part of Print&Play Exhibition: On Display curated by Thieu Custers & Marieke van den Belt
**Chants for Braiding sound was composed by YANIK SOLAND
VENETIAN RED [A PERFORMANCE]
‘Venetian red [a performance]’ was inspired by ‘Venetiaans Rood’ — a mural painting of Johan Van Oord. The mural evokes artistic mechanisms that resonate with Ayo’s most recent research into notating cultural performances in ways that function as archives and invitation for liveness. According to the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum collection archive, Van Oord approached this painting like a dance composition with its own rhythm— in which he took the position as a choreographer, working with a restricted distance of 11 cm between each form that mathematically flow and connect into each other. It’s from this position of choreography that Ayo created a performance from the visual rhythms emanating from ‘Venetian Red’.
This performance was created in collaboration with Silvia Arenas for Print and Play X Boijmans Hillevliet Exhibition.
MODERN DAY GRIOTS AND TAPPED TRAIN CONVERSATIONS
For the sixth edition of Expoplu Experiment, Ayo and Konarovská’s shared fondness for collecting stories, both autobiographical and adapted was the starting point for the artists to create new work within the walls of Expoplu.
This was curated by Fenne Saedt.