“I was calling them visual treatises – I am not writing the theory, I am doing theory,” is how Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola, winner of the ART X Prize with Access, describes her video and digital pieces. Indeed, it surmises a multimedia artist who is purposefully forging her own path and voice. Based in Lagos, the Nigerian-born, US-raised and trained artist sees her work as a conduit for a myriad of discourses that intersect identity, gender, and culture. Given the immediacy of the media she chooses to create her work in, principally performance and digital, Aderemi-Ibitola has gained her plaudits early in her career.
Conversation turns to her awardwinning piece, Scraps from Mama’s Floor, and the inspiration behind it. She notes, “I need to preface what I need to say by talking about my personal experiences. My own mother used to sew dresses for my sister and I, and it was in those dresses that we found ourselves… [Those dresses] configured our bodies, they configured our movement, and spiralled out… Originally, I was just thinking of [the piece] in terms of wanting to create a large sculpture. But, as I thought more about it, it started to shift in movement and become this digital piece.”
The importance of a prize that not only celebrates but supports emerging artists is not lost on Aderemi-Ibitola. “Prizes and accolades are important in terms of what they allow you to have access to,” she says, “ART X Lagos has shown me that you can create and find art in unexpected places… There are no large scale digital pieces or people doing digital art generally that I have seen in Lagos. So being able to bring that here, via such a large platform, can be the beginning of showing that there is an audience here and a market for this in Nigeria.” Her pieces are arguably playing a pivotal role in broadening the conversations about what is considered art, but also what is curatorially significant and of value.
“ART X Lagos has shown me that you can create and find art in unexpected places.”
As an artist where gender, race, and class are an inevitable reality and play a role in how her work is both received and perceived, Aderemi-Ibitola is ultimately sanguine. “I definitely acknowledge that I have a certain level of privilege, coming from the States and coming back here and doing my art… [However], for me, it produces tangential possibilities, because I am allowed a lot of different angles that I can enter into.” One sees this evocatively in pieces such as Bush Girl, Bride Price, and the series My Renaissance, which each invite the viewer to revisit their understanding, bias, and assumptions.
It is Aderemi-Ibitola’s active choice to be domicile in Nigeria, and creating innovative work is testament to the numerous possibilities that a globalised artmarket and technology enabled world offers for an emerging artist. As one who comes from a country that has produced many of Africa‘s foremost female artists – from Afi Ekong to Nike Davies-Okundaye and, more recently, Peju Alatise – she represents a new generation at the vanguard of contemporary African art.
An article by Mazzi Odu
This article was written for The Art Momentum | ART X Lagos Artpaper. [French version inside]
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