Ngozi Schommers’ “the way we mask” at the National Museum in Lagos

Featuring new large scale works of mixed media and over fifty drawings, the way we mask expands the body of work by Ngozi Schommers focusing on identity.

Ngozi Schommers, My Head Under, perforated paper, sequin, design paper, watercolour, ink on watercolour paper, 150x180cm. Courtesy of the artist
Ngozi Schommers, My Head Under, perforated paper, sequin, design paper, watercolour, ink on watercolour paper, 150x180cm. Courtesy of the artist

Nigerian-German artist, Ngozi Schommers, presents her second solo exhibition, the way we mask, at the National Museum in Lagos, opening November 2, 2019. Curated by Wura-Natasha Ogunji, artist and curator, the way we mask expands the body of work by Schommers focusing on memories, culture and identity. She returns to memories of time passed to look in-depth at how hair shapes the identity of Africans. 

Schommers conceptualises a space (or spaces) where the understanding of identity and the ideals of beauty are far removed from representations constructed in recent times. She states that “The discussions on hairstyles of Africans are often overshadowed by colonial history, western representation and perception of our culture with no regards to pre-colonial history. For my research on these works, among other references, I engaged with pre-colonial Igbo hairstyles through the archival images of Agbogho Mmuo (maiden spirit mask), using internet sources and the book ‘Among the Ibos of Nigeria’ by George Thomas Basden.”

Beyond examining pre-colonial archives and the images of Agbogho Mmuo, Schommers delved into photographs from her childhood to study the hairstyles of her mother and other women. She found striking similarities between then and now. Regarding this connection, Ogunji writes in the curatorial statement, “We began with a photograph of stylish women in wigs. How could they know that their image would have a place in this future, that their simple pose would inspire the markings and makings of a daughter yet-to-be-born? It is this return and remembrance that so eloquently frames the work before us now, and the work we do as artists in the world. We give ourselves to the ‘widening circles.’”

The exhibition features new large scale works created with perforated paper, confetti, sequin, watercolour, acrylic, and fibre, and an installation comprising of fifty-eight drawings.

 

 

Ngozi Schommers, born in 1974 Enugu, Nigeria, is based in Germany and Ghana. Her work focuses on subjects of identity, equality, memory, culture, migration and colonialism. She uses the body and experiences of the female gender, archival materials and memories of her childhood in tackling these subjects. As an artist living between West Africa and Europe, she incorporates experiences of both locations in her work and further expands the discourse on the past and present relations between the two regions.

Schommers presented her first solo exhibition We Are Not Welcome Here in 2016 at Rele Gallery in Lagos. She has participated in group exhibitions in Nigeria since 2013. In Germany, she was part of the exhibition The Blind Spot at Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany, where she presented (Un)Framed Narratives, contributing to critical dialogues examining the collecting history of Kunsthalle Bremen in regards to patronage and colonial trade. She has also shown her works at Staedtisch galerie in Bremen and Ystad Konstmuseum in Ystad, Sweden.

“the way we mask” will be on view from November 2—14, 2019 at the National Museum, Lagos. Opening time on November 2 is 2 PM. 

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