Project Space: Wura-Natasha Ogunji

by Wura-Natasha Ogunji

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      If you can be in your body, then you can be this line, this mark on the page, this thread. Even knotted, it is connected, to fibers, filaments, a white charcoal line. It is replicated in our bodies, as well. It is the sinew that holds muscle to bone. And one day, drawing to dust, this line will float into space, another spider hovering just above the atmosphere.

      I have always believed in the intention of a mark. What it can recall and remember. What can be invoked and defined by the pushing of charcoal across the page and the running of needle through paper. This is deep knowledge. And the reason we carry a beautiful, beautiful responsibility in imagination. And the imagined.

      The implications for how the artifact occupies the space of the paper become enormous. Can its power be invoked by the drawing itself, so that we may understand it more fully through the act of drawing, by embedding the image in paper with thread, by tracing our own forms into the page as well, as a way to dialogue with the mask that is now hundreds of years old? What does that invocation look like? How does it sound? (Is the sound present in the performances I make with my own body? Is this how the sound of a drawing emerges, in the space of breath and movement?)

      How does the drawing allow us to visit the historical record itself, to return to Nok civilization (in the Jos Plateau region of Nigeria) and actually try on a terracotta sculpture as if it were a mask, as if it were a familiar face, as if an ancestor during ceremony, as if I were the ancestor, as if it were my own face that I was able to try on hundreds of years into this future, as if I were the sculptor, as if I were the one who pulled clay from earth sometime between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D., as if dates and time didn’t matter, as if the inevitability of beauty and connection could change everything and all that was asked of us was the deep vulnerability that pencil to paper requires.

      Portions of this writing originally appeared on my blog (February, 2008). The work entitled Unexplained Presence was created for Tisa Bryant’s book of the same name (Leon Works Press, 2007).

      Wura-Natasha Ogunji is a visual and performance artist. She is a materialist in the purest sense of the word, and thus finds herself, in this lifetime, in love with thread.

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