THAT WHICH CHASES AWAY SORROW I, II, III
Glass blown sculptures
Exhibited at Art Rotterdam 2023 with Singular Art Gallery & Amant 2022
I first stumbled upon a drawing of Nepenthes commonly known as a pitcher plant, in the 1872 publication, ‘ The Botany of the Speke and Grant Expedition [The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume XXIX] -- written by the British Explorers, John Speke and Richard Grant who "discovered" the source of the River Nile in Uganda. At that moment, I was looking for the scientific name of 'Opobo' a plant used to weave winnowers in Northern Uganda. Upon further research into the meaning of Nepenthes, I became enamoured by the Greek mythology in Homer’s Odyssey in which a character, Polydamna, wife of Thōn gives Helen of Troy a magical potion with “ the power of robbing grief and anger of their sting and banishing all painful memories.” This mythology personally resonated with the Oral History research encapsulated in the video piece Untaken Photographs.
This work materialized during my studio research residency at Amant, New York. Part of my process has been archived here
Jason Robert Bauer & Romina Gonzalez
Urban Glass Studio New York
WHEN THINGS ARE BEINGS
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
26.11.2022 - 10.04.2023
Winnow(er) (2022) is the outcome of Ayo’s quest to learn the craft of weaving winnowing fans in the style of Langi people living in northern Uganda—the objects are known as Odero (“Langi winnowers”) in the artist’s mother tongue. Presenting the fans as sculptural objects that were inspired by a Langi winnower inherited by the artist herself, the project investigates embodied knowledge about personal and collective histories etched deep within diasporic bodies. The center of gravity for this project lies in the expansion of Ayo’s practice towards informal knowledge production and immaterial cultural heritage.
Conceptually, Winnow(er) represents the forces manifested through the multiplicity of energies and purposes that can be contained within this object. Winnowers are not only used in agriculture, but also in ceremonies such as Dwoko Atin Awobi lot, a child-cleansing practice and rite of passage that UNESCO recognized in 2013 as intangible cultural heritage. Ayo’s engagement with her diasporic experience—using Dutch materials while engaging with Ugandan techniques and heritage—imbues Winnow(er) with trans-historical and trans- geographical significance.
Photo: Geert-Jan Van Rooij
Concept and exhibition curation: Amanda Pinatih and Britte Sloothaak, with the help of intern Jasmijn Mol.
Download ' When things are beings' Publication
A DOOR AJAR, SINGING
Exhibition text written by Shimmer Rotterdam
"A Door Ajar, Singing is an expanded group exhibition featuring 6 artists whose artworks connect to entrances and exits in the broadest sense. Joining us over the following months are (in order of appearance) Alexandra Phillips, Lee Kit, Ayo, Melvin Moti, Jo-ey Tang, and Charlotte Posenenske.
We are inspired by the power of artmaking and curating. How it enables us to enter into an encounter, make an individual decision collectively, and when to exit. Exits are just as crucial as entries, as it gives space for someone else to enter and then move on. A Door Ajar, Singing celebrates the deeply connected materiality that communicates over thresholds through different physicalities and temporalities. We hover at the door left ajar, be uplifted by the autumn leaf, replay the voice message, cast ourselves over and over again in material, attend to a memory of land and country, and meditate through repetitive action. We find ways to connect. We let go. Come back. Back and forth. To and fro. Exhale. Sing. Always singing."
ELDERS, SHADES & HEALERS
Part of HEKS (Witches), Group exhibition, Artphy
This work questions the violence contained in the
archival image through the omission of personal stories of unofficial bodies.
In this constellation, the collages and videos are reconstructions of archival images of unknown young East African women, photographed by European christian missionaries during the Victorian era. Consequently, the work endeavours to give space for acknowledging the erasure of indigenous healing practices embodied by East African female healers.
The sculpture -- formally inspired by the shape of Cuscuta europaea (Dodder), is a parasitic and/or medicinal plant depending on the bodies of knowledge growing it. For example; in North Africa and the Eastern Himalayas, this plant is used to treat Hepatic diseases where in Europe and North America, it is more commonly associated with its parasitic nature.