Illustration by Ayo Arogunmati
Ms. Ogunji, what would you want future generations to say about your art?
I think that seeing the entire body of an artist's work--after they pass on--is incredibly special because you are able to see connections in the work over a lifetime. It's an amazing perspective to have, to see that entire narrative of creating. With that perspective I hope they can say that the work was brave and beautiful.
Are you ok with your art seen as just beautiful or would you rather have your audience connect on a deeper level?
Beauty is the element that allows people to connect on a deeper level. Beauty does not mean pretty, superficial or fleeting but it causes us to linger, ask questions and appreciate a more profound sense of meaning over time.
What is more important to you? The idea or the execution?
These are intertwined for me. The idea develops as I create the work--whether with performance, video or drawings. The creative process itself allows for the vision or concept to morph and shift throughout.
I understand Feminism to be a fight for equality, do you agree and is your art your way of contributing to the movement?
While some of the work could be considered political and certainly Feminist in the sense that it gives women a sense of freedom which they might not necessarily find on an everyday basis, my starting point as an artist is something more ephemeral, less defined. And there are many layers to the process of creating. It's never all or one thing or perspective.
Is the use of art the only area women can freely express themselves in society?
Not the only, of course not, but art certainly provides a way for humans to express themselves outside of rules and expectations. So in that sense it is an excellent space for finding and expressing aspects of freedom.
When did you discover your voice as an artist?
My artistic voice is always developing, but I would definitely say that my video work-- including 'belongings', 'marks' and 'The epic crossings of an Ife head' certainly marked a way of creating that is very much my own and that informs my practice today. But also, along with sewing on the trace paper. That particular artistic voice feels so strong and resonant to me.
Do you regret any work you have created? If so, why?
How do you define success with regards to your art?
Joy in the process of making along with pushing boundaries of materials or visuals. When I look at something and say out loud, That's so beautiful. Then I know.
You mentioned in an interview about "The Kissing Mask" that you felt god-like, have you had a moment with God?
I felt a deep and special connection with strangers. They felt intensely vulnerable. In the piece I wear a mask and strangers are invited to kiss the mask. That kind of openness and connection is powerful and humbling. It could be called divine or transcendent or magic or perhaps it is the simplest of connections that makes being human at once so profound and ordinary.