Norweigan-Nigerian artist Frida Orupabo’s practice consists of images from the fabric of her personal life superimposed onto a more polemic, public sphere. From this collision a distinctively subjective perspective emerges, informed by her profession as social worker.
Using an Instagram account (@nemiepeba) Orupabo collects and shares images ranging from her personal photo archive, early cinema and news media images of colonial violence and civil rights struggle. What the breadth of this visual catalogue sometimes leaves behind in terms of context is recomposed through her collage work. Crops, repetitions, and other forms of analogue manipulation work together to construct scenes of solidarity and shock.
Investigating themes of community, motherhood, and old age, alongside images of torture and oppression, Orupabo constructs a troubling mix of fantasy and spectacle. Her cut paper collages evoke puppets, with their limbs fixed with brass fasteners, but their slight physical materiality belies the power they possess to gaze back, in a way that resonates with the feminist film theory of writer and activist bell hooks. In the exhibition the mouth and the truth at Portikus, Frankfurt in 2019, Orupabo presented her collages as instruments with which to destabilise notions of the historical archive, and as potential tools of emancipation.