ExhibitionThrough February 25
On Delegitimization and Solidarity: Sisiku AyukTabe, the Martin Luther King Jr. of Ambazonia, the Nera 10, and the Myth of Violent Africa
Opening Reception: Friday, September 17, 2021, 6–8pm
In his first United States solo show, Adjani Okpu-Egbe presents mixed media compositions, aiming to raise awareness about Ambazonia, also known as Southern Cameroons or English Speaking Cameroons, where the artist was born and lived until 2004. Okpu-Egbe’s antiracist and decolonial visuals, along with written, spoken, and musical contextualization, shed light on the ongoing war waged in Ambazonia by the French neocolonial regime in Cameroon. The artist observes, “United States taxpayers also unwittingly fund terrifying colonial violence―even the killing of children—in my homeland and have a right to know and have a say about this devastating War that started in 2016.”
His compositions are replete with symbolism inspired by the natural world, including pregnant fish, vines bearing lemons, and semi-abstract beasts, which refer to specific people and histories of oppression as well as celebrations of freedom. Often painting on nontraditional supports, like doors, and incorporating everyday objects including books, mouse traps, and bubble wrap, the artist layers materials to convey irreducible complexity. Prior to becoming an artist, Okpu-Egbe studied archaeology and the history of political thought, which informed his practice.
ISCP’s opening reception and public discussion on September 17 will be co-hosted by the Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network and the International Peace Research Association, and will feature a panel discussion with the artist, academics, and activists who will unpack the international political situation in Ambazonia in the context of the work on view. Other speakers will include political prisoners (connecting virtually) and leaders of the Black liberation movement in the United States. The panel will be moderated by Matt Meyer, co-author of Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan-African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation, and Senior Research Scholar at University of Massachusetts/Amherst Resistance Studies Initiative.
Okpu-Egbe (born 1979, Kumba, Cameroon) lives and works in London and has exhibited work at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany, and SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, among other institutions. He has presented his work in Surpassing the Eternally Mysterious Afro-Surreal, 2019, Sulger-Buel Gallery, London (solo show); Regarding Africa: Contemporary Art and Afro-Futurism, 2016, Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and his installation The Journey of the Underdog, 2014, was highlighted in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London. In 2020, he was the recipient of the inaugural Ritzau Art Prize and participated in a three-month residency at ISCP, followed by a four-month residency in 2021.
This exhibition is curated by Amy Rosenblum-Martín. Rosenblum-Martín is a curator who most recently served as guest assistant curator for Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood’s MoMA PS1 exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Formerly a staff curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami and The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, she has also worked for the Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, all New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; National Portrait Gallery, London; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, among others. Her exhibition Ana Mendieta: Thinking About Children’s Thinking, 2017, at Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, Harlem, was an Artforum Critic’s Pick.
This exhibition is supported by Colleen Ritzau Leth; Evelyn Toll Family Foundation; Hartfield Foundation; Johnson Picture Framing & Galleries; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; New York City Council District 34; New York City Council District 33; New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; Tauck Ritzau Innovative Philanthropy; Teiger Foundation; and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.
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