Following a near death experience, using self-portraiture and the re-staging of traditional Yoruba healing rituals, Adeola Olagunju documents her healing process with pictures.
The two-series photo exhibition, "Navigating a dark space" and "Home is" documents the story of the selfless and vulnerability state of the artist, following a near death experience, the interface between the traumatising experience, healing and recovery (mental recovery) to the state of full recovery, two tears after, created between Lagos and Dusseldorf.
"Navigating a Dark Space" a black and white photography, reveals a devastating experience which led to a surgical procedure that left her without a voice, panic became a “thing” within her family. She became exposed to layers of beliefs and faiths, including Irapada, a Yoruba term that translates as “Redemption” and signifies a spiritual procession which is performed mostly on severely sick people as a way of renewing their lives.
The camera became an important part of Olagunju’s healing process, acting as witness and connecting her to the essential parts of her life and of course, creating the perfect distraction from all the ongoing drama. The first photographs were taken by family and friends, who in a sense became surrogates for the artist, as she asked them to document her presence in the hospital and recovering at home.
As she grew stronger Olagunju re-staged the flashbacks of the Irapada and the moments and feelings of vulnerability and imbalance that ensued. She says: “I began to stage from memory what I had been through as a means to release my unconscious fears and heal my mind.”
Now 2 years after, "Home is", a coloured photography, records the artist's new state and although away from home, the photographs created during the artist’s residency in Dusseldorf, but borrows from the city’s colourful carnival, the artist re-enacts a performance of home rituals, as a way of rooting deeply into this new space in Germany exploring questions of identity and belonging in a foreign land, offering a way to once again refer to Yoruba traditional belief systems as an anchor and centre, even as she felt distant from the comfort of home.
The exhibition runs from Friday, July 7, 2017 to Sunday, July 23, 2017 at Whitespace, 58 Raymond Njoku, Ikoyi, Lagos.