Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Wura-Natasha Ogunji – Kissing Strangers and Changing Face

Paper presented at the conference “What is a Mask?”, 26-27 January 2017, Royal Institute of Art.

“Wura-Natasha Ogunji creates performances about the presence of women in public space. Many of her works highlight the relationship between the body and social power and presence; she is interested in how women, in particular, occupy space through both epic and ordinary actions. Kissing Strangers and Changing Face considers how the masked performer deftly interrupts both social and physical space both in museum contexts and on the streets. Ogunji will present several performances including Will I still carry water when I am a dead woman? [Lagos], Can’t I just decide to fly [Capetown] and The Kissing Mask [Seattle].

Will I still carry water when I am a dead woman? and Can’t I just decide to fly? are part of a series of works that use physicality, endurance, and otherworldly masks to create physical space and presence for women performers. Ogunji often designs costumes which riff off of traditional masquerades thereby allowing performers to move freely through busy public spaces. Her work, The Kissing Mask reconnects the artifact to the present moment by proposing an intimate act between artist, mask and viewer. The performance complicates and dismantles the mask as sacred object or historical relic by making use of it on a living body [that of the artist/performer].”

The conference was curated by Catherine Malabou and in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London.

The conference received generous funding from The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond).