Toyin Ojih Odutola, New Work: Toyin Ojih Odutola (installation view, SFMOMA); photo: Katherine Du Tiel

EKO 2050: Other Futures

Related Exhibition New Work: Toyin Ojih Odutola

Saturday, Nov 5, 2022

2 p.m.

Phyllis Wattis Theater, Floor 1

Free. RSVP encouraged. Seating available on a first come, first served basis.

Co-organized by the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley, the Black Studies Collaboratory at UC Berkeley, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, EKO 2050: Other Futures is a symposium inspired by the exhibition New Work: Toyin Ojih Odutola, on view at SFMOMA through January 22, 2023. Titled Satellite, Ojih Odutola’s project takes inspiration from the speculative fiction of Octavia E. Butler and the poetry of Dionne Brand to explore a future haunted by the human-driven environmental changes that characterize this geological age of the Anthropocene. Eko — the traditional Yoruba name for today’s Lagos — becomes a site to consider the ways in which our past and present can shape the contours of African and other global futures, revealing new configurations of home, community, and knowledge. EKO 2050: Other Futures invites speakers across disciplines including art history, fashion, film, and gastronomy to discuss their practices and ideas of world building.


2 p.m. | Welcome and introduction by Eungie Joo

Nana Adusei-Poku on Black Melancholia
Michael Elégbèdé on pioneering Nigerian food culture narratives
Selly Raby Kane on TANG JËR, with a screening of the short film
Discussion moderated by Eungie Joo

4 p.m. | Toyin Ojih Odutola and Leigh Raiford in conversation

About the Speakers

Nana Adusei-Poku, PhD, is Assistant Professor in African Diasporic Art History in the Department of History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. She was previously Associate Professor and Luma Foundation Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York. She is the author of Taking Stakes in the Unknown: Tracing Post-Black Art (2021), editor of Reshaping the Field: Art of the African Diaspora on Display (2022), and her articles have been published in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, e-flux, Kunstforum International, Flash Art, L’Internationale, and darkmatter. She curated Performances of Nothingness (Academy of Arts, Berlin, 2018) and Black Melancholia (Hessel Museum Bard College, New York, 2022).

A third-generation chef, Michael Adé Elégbèdé grew up with his mother’s and grandmother’s work running local restaurants that also served as cooking schools for young women. Elégbèdé initially studied sciences at The University of Illinois at Chicago but found his true calling when he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone and went on to work with remarkable chefs across the US including Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and Nomad Restaurant. After thirteen years away, Chef Elégbèdé returned home to explore the diverse cultures and traditions that make up Nigerian cuisine. He has traveled to many remote areas, experiencing, documenting, and learning the unique nature of the cuisine and its ingredients. He currently runs an experiential restaurant test kitchen in Lagos called ÌTÀN (meaning story or history in Yoruba), where stories of the Nigerian culture, culinary traditions, and ingredients are narrated through the medium of food.

Toyin Ojih Odutola is known for her multimedia drawings and works on paper which explore the malleability of identity and the possibilities in visual storytelling. Interested in the topography of skin, Ojih Odutola has a distinctive style of mark-making using ballpoint pens, pencils, pastels, and charcoal. This signature technique involves building up layers on the page, creating compositions that reinvent and reinterpret the traditions of portraiture. Ojih Odutola credits the development of her style from using pen, which holds a special significance through its function as a writing tool, as her work is also akin to fiction. She often spends months crafting narratives that unfold through series of artworks like the chapters of a book.

Selly Raby Kane is a Senegalese artist, filmmaker, and fashion designer who launched her eponymous brand in 2012 with the goal to disrupt the codes and trends of Senegalese fashion. Influenced by fantasy and cinematography, her avant-garde line has garnered international media coverage in publications such as Vogue, TIME magazine, OkayAfrica, and AFROPUNK, and has been exhibited at the Museum of North Carolina, the Louisiana Museum, MoMA, and the Guggenheim. Kane’s aesthetic combines collage techniques, surreal imagery, and Senegalese immaterial heritage. Deeply inspired by the city, her fantasy films explore Dakar’s urban archive and immortalize its underground aesthetic. Kane’s latest creation is the short film TANG JËR, set in a typical street restaurant in which an eclectic community shares their perspectives on life.

About the Moderators

Eungie Joo is curator and head of contemporary art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she organized SOFT POWER (2019), a group exhibition looking at the role of artists as citizens and social actors, and Shifting the Silence, an exhibition about the radical language of abstraction. As Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs at the New Museum (2007–12), she led the Museum as Hub initiative and organized the 2012 New Museum Generational Triennial: The Ungovernables. Joo is curatorial advisor to the 2022 Aichi Triennale: Still Alive, and has served as artistic director of the 5th Anyang Public Art Project/APAP 5 (2016); curator of Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible (2015); and commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, where she presented Condensation: Haegue Yang (2009).

Leigh Raiford (she/they) is Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches, researches, curates, and writes about race, gender, justice, and visuality. At UC Berkeley, Raiford is Co-Director with Tianna S. Paschel of the Black Studies Collaboratory, an initiative to amplify the world-building work of Black Studies, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle; co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez of Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora; and co-editor with Renee Romano of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory. She is Series Editor with Sarah Elizabeth Lewis and Deborah Willis of Vision and Justice, a new imprint of Aperture Books. Raiford has written essays about the work of a number of contemporary Black artists, including LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lava Thomas, Mildred Howard, Dawoud Bey, and Toyin Ojih Odutola.