In Alosúgbe: a journey across time, Onajide Shabaka’s debut exhibition at Emerson Dorsch, Shabaka explores biology and ethnobotany in the form of recent photography, works on paper and sculpture. These media serve as material for understanding the migrations of both humans and plants during the Atlantic colonial slave era to the present. This exhibition derives from several years of ongoing research finding connections between colonial sites in the Low Country (Georgia & South Carolina), the Caribbean archipelago and Suriname.
Shabaka builds origin stories with art works that are at once delicate and immense. Arrowhead shaped columns and serpentine designs are delicately hand cut and painted and collaged onto stiff paper.
His practice is concerned with historical/biographical themes related to geography that include African diaspora and Native American cultures. Using ethnobotany, geology and the performative as aesthetic vehicles for investigating and making historical/ biographical themes, his art practice comes into being through complex institutions, histories, human experiences. Shabaka’s writing and curatorial practice focuses largely on contemporary art and culture, and subject specific research.