In SERIES #5 we are happy to host online for a close-up artist interview Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin from Ghana.
How does your current artistic practice look like?
My practice and my daily life are the same and luckily the last three years have seen me expand my view on life, which has also expanded my practice. I have been placed in this position where storytelling, documentation and building a collection of stories are my focus. Using multimedia, with audio-visual being the core, through the narration of those painting their picture, I am diving into worlds I could only imagine. I finally started my platform TAC (The Art Concept ) which is a part of my practice and is one of the things that drives me daily. I am working towards centering marginalised stories. My focus now is documenting and archiving the realities of African & Black people and those in the many intersections. Since the pandemic, I have been able to transition my conversational documentation from physical space into the virtual world using Zoom.
For which three things are you very thankful at the moment?
- My body, mind & soul which I think are one :-)
- My life partner, without true partnerships you can't find all that you are meant to be and by partnerships I don’t mean just romantic partnerships.
- Those who did the work before me, those doing it now and those that will come.
What have you learned during this time: What can you do without, that you usually stick to?
I have learnt quickly that I shouldn't doubt myself or my practice, time has proven me to be on the right path and I am more focused than I have ever been. I can do without fear, the fear of the responsibility that comes with my practice, because now I understand that the work I am doing has been done before and will continue after me, so this makes it comfortable for me to just do my part.
How do you deal with the uncertainty of the future?
Thankfully I am sure that the future will bring what it has in store for us and all I have to do is keep doing my little bit and love. When the pandemic made the world close its borders, I found myself a little bit worried about how I would continue documenting because I didn't want to sit still and like always, life gives you solutions, sometimes we just don't listen. Luckily I did. I discovered Zoom as a tool to use in documenting and this has extended my practice in ways that excites me.
At which place would you choose to be at the moment?
Where I am right now, next to my partner and that could be anywhere, but I am lucky to be home in Accra.
Which connection do you have to nature currently?
I try to connect as much as I can and currently I just love listening to the birds, wind and enjoying gardening.
In how far the Corona pandemic is an allegory of global capitalism?
As billions of people wonder how they will survive in this new world, we have been forced into isolation, which in turn has made many of those already extremely rich, richer. We can see how this has affected the likes of capitalists like Jeff Bezos who might be the world's first trillionaire, while people are dying in hunger. Black people are targeted by white supremacist systems all over and we have also seen how the pandemic has exposed racism globally through healthcare systems. As the protests and riots continue, which has led to the falling of racist institutions, I hope we can continue this fight collectively and individually post pandemic. Black people must keep standing and fighting for their rights and white people must begin to do more than just having progressive thoughts, action speaks louder than words.
African intellectuals as Felwine Sarr, Achille Mbembe and Wole Soyinka consider the Covid-19 crises a chance for Africa. What do you think about that?
A chance for what? I do think that Covid-19 has shown that even with all its setbacks, Africa shows leadership and always has. Looking at how the pandemic has been managed since December 2019 to date, countries in the continent have taken bold steps in reducing its effects and that has been one of the things that has led us to very low numbers of deaths. When they say this is a chance for Africa, I ask why now? It has always been Africa's chance, we don't need a pandemic before we have a chance, so don't we have a chance post the pandemic? Also I do believe that Africa is beyond the geographical location and it will always be our time, we just have to embrace our strengths individually and as a collective.
Who should view your art right now?
First Black & African people and all those in the intersections. Second everybody else.
What is your ONE question to the world (that you would stitch onto your M.Bassy-mouthgard)?
How are you?
Which topics are drowned out by Corona at the moment?
If this question was asked maybe in March I would have given a list of things, now things are being brought to the fore, attention is being brought to white supremacy, systemic oppression and the exploitative nature of capitalism, which I think are some of the core reasons for all that is wrong in the world today. Corona is now making us pay attention to some of these things, especially those of us privileged enough to take time out.
To what extent do you feel responsible for educating white people in terms of racism?
I don't think it is my responsibility to educate white people, white people should take their time and educate themselves. Now the white people I have chosen to be friends with or work with I call them out whenever they make uninformed and offensive statements.
What options are there to fight racism?
There are so many options to fighting racism but white people must take the responsibility to unlearn the lies they have been told from generation to generation.
Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin
Omonblanks is a creative director, festival curator, producer and programer; he has a 15-year career in music, film and as an indie label and record producer. He is the founder & creative director of TAC (The Art Concept) organisation, a documentation and archive-focused platform, interested in studying African and Black societies from community, city and country perspectives. This is where he researches, documents towards the building of an archive.
As a researcher and documentarian Omonblanks has been researching, trying to figure out the direction and form his practice should take and by 2017 he began documenting conversations after deciding to continue in the footsteps of a culture that predates technological form which is oral storytelling. Omonblanks now dedicate his entire practice in documenting and archiving the realities of African & Black people and those in the many intersections, with the intent to expand the narrative which led to him starting the platform TAC (The Art Concept).