This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist in the ArtSlant network whose work we love. This week we seek answers from daàPo reo.
We’re exhibiting two of daàPo’s riotous flag artworks this week in the ArtSlant Prize Exhibition, where the artist recieved an Honorable Mention. Come visit us in Times Square at SPRING/BREAK Art Show, March 6–12, booth 2231. Purchase tickets for the show here.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
For me, it’s about rendering the texture of an experience as closely as possible, much more so than the aesthetic aspect of the work itself. I mean, obviously, I’m concerned with crafting something that doesn’t look too bad, but the way I see it, it’s like I’m skinning myself to clad you in it. Does it feel sticky in there? Too tight a fit, maybe? Yeah, wearing human tissue tends to feel that way. Joking aside, it’s okay; it’s not meant to be comfortable.
To continue my metaphor, from wherever you’re standing and engaging with the work, you’re wearing a piece of my side of the story, spring/summer ready-to-wear daaPo collection, kind of. You’re wearing that time when I’m pissed off about Trump’s immigration order, or some other moment when I realize how the human thirst for freedom will always provide hope for a way out of the fuckupdness. So that’s what my work is about… or at least that’s what I try to do.
AFRIKAN HISTORY X: GAY IS THE OLD BLACK, BITCHES!, 2017, Textile, 89 x 54 inches
What is an artist responsibility?
I’ll just pass on the “speaking on behalf of an entire group of people” thing. So, what is my responsibility? Just like any other human being, I crave connections. You know, this primal urge to share ideas, emotions, thoughts… Art provides me a vehicle to communicate and connect with others. Everyone has their own. Some people are incredible talkers—I can’t for the life of me have my mouth say what I want to say. My vehicle being art, I’d say my responsibility is to use it as best I can to give you my side of the story, while leaving room for yours, as told by yourself. Most of my work addresses the audience, in the literal sense of the phrase. “Hey, you! Yes, I’m talking to you!” I try to get the audience involved in the process. Simply put, if my art can be a conversation starter to open the dialogue, then I can say the job is done.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not).
My three sons. They qualify as art, definitely! I’d say they make me as much as I made them—whatever that means.
This drawing is Three brothers, by Omodapo Reo, the one in the middle. You can tell that boy is a fierce egalitarian. He drew everyone the same height, although they are 17, 6, and 3… and obviously, not quite the same height.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will.
You know that tale, “The Emperor's New Clothes”? Those weavers, they promise the ruler to tailor clothes for him, but warn him that the outfit is going to be invisible to stupid people. Well, imagine, if you will, an artwork that’s invisible to people who suck. It would be an installation. The artwork would sit on top of a pedestal, and I’d have a wall built, a big ass wall, and I’d put the artwork right next to the wall. Anybody who cannot see the work, we’d just dump them on the other side of the wall and they can never come back. Wait. Maybe I’d also put a giant catapult on the “suckers only” side that sends them straight flying to some place we don’t have to worry about them climbing back up into our piece of mind. Voilà!
AD ASTRA (TO THE STARS, LATIN), 2017, Textile, 160 x 60 inches
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t.
#1 Check out Khadidja, @le.k.senegal on Instagram. A storyteller and a photographer. Not necessarily in that order. Not necessarily two different things, in her case. It’s like she cuts squares out of life happening, and I’d swear if you could go back to the moment you’d find a hole in the shape of what she took.
#2 Nkechi Ebubedike. “Virtuosity” is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of her work. She experiments with new media, video art, digital collage etc. Somehow, she manages to invest those virtual images with so much meatiness. It never ceases to amaze me.
#3 Sony Labou Tansi. The best writer ever, period. Does ever include the future? It should. The Antipeople. You cannot die before you’ve read this book, otherwise you're going to regret it your whole death!
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: HOW TO FREE A TURTLE, 2017, Textile, 69 x 35 inches. All images: Courtesy of the artist)