Across the globe, resource extraction has driven colonial agendas by transforming long-standing relationships to land, to labour, and to the body. The work of Nigerian-born artist Abraham O. Oghobase meditates on the legacies of mining across Africa, as well as the resulting displacements and migrations of people. His visual montages lift schematic diagrams of metal-refining processes from A Text-book of Rand Metallurgical Practice, a handbook published in 1912 that heavily informed early extractive industries in South Africa and elsewhere. Presenting these drawings outside of their original context, and super-imposing them upon images of his own body, Oghobase studies the mechanisms of colonial exploitation while also visually disassembling them.
Paired with these interventions are pictures sourced from the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs, an archive based at Northwestern University spanning 1860-1960. The artist has degraded these found photographs through repeated photocopying. Oghobase considers how imagery of landscapes has often been used to advertise or sell land for exploitation. In his hands, the camera, the photocopier, and the scanner do not reproduce images but instead are used to deteriorate them, safeguarding depictions of nature and people from further exploitation. Oghobase refutes the economic and colonial incentives used to justify intensive resource extraction, proposing new (mis)uses of technology that are subversive, imaginative, and liberatory.
Abraham Onoriode Oghobase (b. 1979 in Lagos, Nigeria) is a visual artist living and working in Toronto, Canada. In his photography-based practice, he engages with issues around knowledge production, land, colonial history and representation by deconstructing traditional modes of making, and by experimenting with the narrative and material potential of images and objects. Oghobase’s work has been exhibited widely, and he is one of seven artists featured in this year’s New Photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Oghobase holds an MFA in Visual Arts from York University, Toronto.
Opening Celebration + Artist Talk takes place on Thursday, May 4 at 6pm. Click here to RSVP.