Artist Statement

As an experimental storyteller, Arit Emmanuela Etukudo recreates the relationship between her body’s physical movements in the world and its incorporeal movements as a result of that. In her work, her body is not limited by form, space or time; but instead manifests itself beyond what is immediately perceptible. The deconstruction of the known world and the act of the identity being the holder of dimension challenges the modern constructs of how the black body is allowed to exist. This inserts the narrative of Afrofuturism and Afrofrequency as a source of black radical imagination and the root of the black magical experience. Her work acts as a source of emancipation from systems that attempt to limit her existence.

Etukudo features herself in themes of divinity, religion and authority as a way of negotiating herself into spaces that see her existence as unpalatable. She uses self-portraits as a way of retaliating against these spaces that try to force her to live by their perceptions of how to be acceptable. In order to negotiate herself into these spaces, she expresses her dichotomy by combining the religious, the sensual, the mythological, the lyrical and the spiritual. Inspired by creators like Zanele Muholi, Frida Kahlo and Athi-Patra Ruga; Etukudo creates work that uses her body as language.

In order for viewers to understand the work, they must let go of the ideas of how they think certain bodies are allowed to exist. Etukudo removes this physical world and replaces it with a space where she has given herself the authority to exist without obstruction. The role of the viewer is to believe that this is possible. More importantly, her work is also for black queer girls who have had their bodies and identities policed and their existence disregarded. It is her hope that audiences will see her work and either disengage from their perceptions of how bodies can exist or be moved to exist without social obstruction. By putting her body at the forefront and sharing her personal stories, it is Etukudo’s hope that her work becomes an accessible resource to the minorities that need it.