Ethnographic photographs and digital art converge in Folasade Adeoso's work

Digital artist Folasade Adeoso juxtaposes ethnographic photos of the colonial era with drawn lines, gif animations and flashing flowers of present-day Tumblr.

Long known as a model and muse for photographers such as Kwesi Abbensetts, Brooklyn-based Folasade Adeoso is also recognisable by her digital art, which mixes archival and contemporary images.

“Research is key,” says Nigerian-born Adeoso. “I spend endless amounts of time looking for old scans and reading online articles.”

The young artist makes use of simple graphic design methods such as line drawings and .gif animations to produce work that aims to construct new narratives, which speak to exoticism, and African diasporic identities.

Adeoso re-appropriates ethnographic photography in her work to facilitate a dialogue that crosses the temporal boundaries between historical and contemporary forms of oppression based on race, sex and gender.

“Mainly I just think what can I do to bring something different to these images? And I start playing with lines and then connecting one line to another. And then I delete, try again, delete, try again,” she explained to OkayAfrica. The result is a body of work with a strong aesthetic core that is curating attention towards contemporary artists who document experiences that fall out of the norm.

With the help of jewellery designer Sasha Payton, Adeoso raised funds on Kickstarter to the establish Open Space ­– a contemporary space that would serve as a home for artists and enthusiasts, and a forum for dialogue and appreciation for the work of burgeoning innovative artists for a month.

In the same spirit as other digital artists, Adeoso’s work is available on Tumblr. Artists use the media because it provides a necessary alternative to the art and media mainstream, and it works as a platform centred on the belief that sharing art and art criticism should be an accessible dialogue. 

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