At the Strada Gallery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Taofeek Abijako‘s Head Of State closes New York Fashion Week with an exhibition entitled, “Home of Corpus,” curated by Diallo Simon-Ponte. Abijako and Simon-Ponte wanted to explore and express what home means in new ways, and what better way to describe that than through the body? Our bodies can carry memories that we don’t even remember. In this exhibition, a continuation of Homecoming and Memories of Home, completing the trilogy, are formed through artworks by Cameron Granger, Nola Ayoola, Oluwatobiloba Ajayi, Isabel Okoro, and Lewinale Havette.
Walking into the Head Of State exhibition, you’ll see right away a display of three red dresses designed by Abijako as sculptures to embody the essence of Nigeria. The five compelling artists that Abijako’s work is accompanied by are each from the diaspora and express within their works a new definition of home through mediums such as painting, photography, and textiles to tell their respective stories.
Abijako explains the origins of the exhibition saying, “I have a much broader view of what my definition of home is. It’s not just this literal thing, like ‘Home is Lagos, Nigeria, it’s Albany, New York.’ I think the Diallo really expanded my view on what our home is and it’s this thing that that constantly moves, and it’s not just like this fixated thing.”
Some stand out photography pieces in the exhibition by artist Okoro was accompanied by small poems. An excerpt read, “…but they say freedom comes to those who take it, so i took it.” She said she “wanted to make something that could sit on the line between familiar and foreign, away but at home.” She took photos of herself as a representation of returning home through her body.
In a multimedia piece by Ajayi, the artist returned to the work that was unfinished in a time of loneliness away from her family who is pictured in her piece. She says, “I made these pieces at a time when I was separated from my family and dealing with the fear and anxiety that caused throughout my life. I returned to the work to edit it for the show. On one hand, it was healing to feel like I was on the other side of that valley, but it was more interesting to notice the traces of longing that persist.”
Head of State’s exhibition was also sponsored by Nike with an Air Force One launch to mark the collaboration. The sneaker is in honor of the designer’s father’s journey from Lagos, Nigeria to Spain and back. The shoe is a deep blue hue reminiscent of sea on which he traveled and have a distinct and detailed design of cowrie shells throughout the shoe, a form of currency at one point in Nigeria.
Curator Simon-Ponte was able to conjure Abijako’s visions of home seamlessly through this curation. They both worked in tandem to complete a thought and though it may seem this is the end of one era, the designer is sure to explore other notions in future through his work and artistry. Simon-Ponte said, “The fact that this exhibition in particular fractures the expectation of what fashion week is meant to proceed, I think I love the exploitation of that. It asks the people that are always going to shows and cycling through these things to slow down.”
“Home as Corpus” is own view until September 15th at Strada Gallery on 329 Broome St. New York, New York.