Amid the mostly black-and-white images of barking dogs, mushroom clouds, teeth, children, and women in various positions of power, repose, ecstasy and melancholy that populate Frida Orupabo’s Instagram page, there is a quote from The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970):
“And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.”
The passage was posted in remembrance of the late author on the occasion of her death earlier this year. Amongst Orupabo’s over 2,000 appropriated and self-sourced images, Morrison’s subtle comparative language is not only an example of the author’s linguistic cunning and genius, but also serves as a blueprint for the dualities and nuances Orupabo attempts to highlight in her own work. The Norwegian-Nigerian sociologist and artist uses multimedia collages to explore questions around race, family relations, gender, sexuality, violence and identity.