Sternberg Press, 2021, Hardcover, 152 pages, 29 ×
Contributions by Stefanie Hessler, Lola Olufemi, Legacy Russell
In her work, Orupabo explores questions of race, family and heritage, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity, while considering the necessity of visibility for political subjecthood. In her research process, Orupabo mines archives with a colonial history, revisiting images that were created through a racialized lens as well as on digital platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. She creates collages from found material, both digital and physical, and videos that are shown in exhibition spaces and distributed on the same online platforms from which she obtains material. The resulting works take the shape of fragmented Black, mostly female-bodied, figures, offering offers various readings of the stories and lives of the people depicted, many of whom are hardly mentioned in the archives. Through relieving the images of their previous context, Orupabo urges viewers to look at them anew. This look can be unsettling—it is met by a countergaze that negates any monolithic categorization of those being depicted. By bridging historical archives and today’s digital platforms, Orupabo foregrounds the social and political structures that determine how we see images, and how these structures organize our thinking. In doing so, her work proposes urgently needed alternatives of seeing otherwise.