CAI Artist-in-Residence, Eniola Dawodu, spoke to UB students about her creative research and explorations across costume, garment, and sculpture. Moved to release boundaries and reframe her practice with intention and attention to materiality rooted in the ancestral, Dawodu's work speaks to the narrative potency of ancestral African dress practices and the cultural significance of honoring one's personal truth.
Dawodu is a British-born Nigerian based between Dakar, Senegal and Brooklyn, NY. Working as a textile artist and costume designer, Dawodu is engaged in the cultural archiving of memories, methods, and magic concerning West African textiles and aesthetics of style and self-presentation.
Her research and creative practice privilege traditional dress practice, its motif and methodology, as potent conduits for cross-generational communication, situated in the liminal and powerfully charged with legacy and history. With reverence to foremothers, Dawodu reimagines garments of power as masques within which space is held for the latent narratives of ancestral African experiences. In alliance with master artisans via ancient techniques, past and present-day collapse into cross-dimensional expression. Woven memoirs unite; a foundation upon which truths are embroidered.
Dawodu's CAI residency coincides with the exhibition, Punctures, at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, at which her new textile work, IRAN SI IRAN (2019), will be featured. The piece reassembles a fragmented chorus of ancestral African women’s strategic radical overtures toward autonomy and cultural sovereignty and will be featured as part of the exhibition in conversation with Kite's (a.k.a. Oglala Lakota artist Suzanne Kite) multi-media installation and performance, “Everything I Say Is True” (2017).
The exhibition features two works placed in conversation: Kite’s multi-media installation and performance Everything I Say Is True (2017), which considers concepts of truth in relation to Oglala Lakota knowledge systems. Eniola Dawodu’s IRAN SI IRAN (2019), a newly commissioned textile work which reassembles a fragmented chorus of ancestral African women’s strategic radical overtures toward autonomy and cultural sovereignty.
Kite aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglala Lakota performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD student at Concordia University and Research Assistant for the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Her research is concerned with contemporary Lakota epistemologies through research-creation, computational media, and performance practice. Recently, Kite has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fiber sculptures, immersive video & sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records.
This exhibition is part of Punctures: Textiles in Digital and Material Time. Consisting of three exhibitions and public programs that weave into each other, Punctures features artists who are invested in the intersections and history of textile practices, media art, and critical and liberatory politics, including trans fashion and domesticity; gendered and immigrant labor under global racial capitalism; Gelede women’s commemoration, protest and power as represented in textile work; speculative future-casting through Oglala Lakota knowledge systems, and more. The exhibition features installations by Betty Yu, Cecilia Vicuña, Charlie Best, Eniola Dawodu, Kite, and Sabrina Gschwandtner, performances by Charlie Best, Jodi Lynn Maracle, and Kite, and screenings of work by Jodie Mack, Pat Ferrero, Sabrina Gschwandtner, and Wang Bing. Punctures design by Kelly Walters.