Fotomuseum Winterthur | Saturday, 26.02. – Sunday, 29.05.2022

Frida Orupabo – I have seen a million pictures of my face and still I have no idea

Norwegian Nigerian artist and sociologist Frida Orupabo (*1986) creates analogue and digital black-and-white collages and video installations using visual material circulating online. From photographs from the colonial era as well as from contemporary imagery, from ethnography, medicine and science to art and pop culture, Orupabo dissects representations of the Black, mostly female body as a means to negotiate themes of colonial violence, racism, sexuality and identity. 

Orupabo arranges and condenses snippets of photographs, videos and text from a wide range of online sources into multi-layered narratives that seek to liberate the depiction of Black lives from one-dimensional representations and attribute to them instead complexity, ambivalence and contradictions. 

The artist’s exploration of personal and cultural belonging is the starting point for her delicate, sculptural collages and video works. She dismembers images of Black bodies before reassembling them layer by layer. Processes of objectification, fixation and ‘othering’ are deconstructed, exposing, in a discomforting and disturbing way, how photography significantly contributes to the formation and perpetuation of colonial power relations and violence.

In Frida Orupabo’s collages, the fractures stand out visibly, like scars. They mark the violent, spatially and temporally dissociated colonial experience whose legacy continues to shape the everyday realities, life experiences and images of today. By appropriating the colonial visual memory, by tearing it apart, reassembling and rewriting it to narrate different potential (hi)stories, the scars also visualise the process of emotional labour. Perhaps they imply the possibility of healing – if we accept the challenge of the gaze, confront its moments of irritation and ambivalence, and become aware of its complex legacy and ways in which it operates.


Fotomuseum Winterthur presents the first solo exhibition of Frida Orupabo in Switzerland. 

The exhibition title is a quote by Elaine Kahn, I Know I Am Not an Easy Woman, 2015.

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