Mirror installation, 2017
My body itself is a mosaic of heritages; my mouth, my hair, my skin color; not to say the language with which I express myself and my believes. We are thrown into the world with an inheritance and this inheritance is even more complex for the colonized. Franz Fanon insists that the colonized man is a political creature in the most global sense of the term and he couldn’t be more right. The history of many peoples was suddenly fragmented with a foreign language, political scheme, and Julia Kristeva emphasizes our innate foreigness. “Handle with care” is a warning to address our self reflections, our fragile identities, understanding that we are all already foreigners.
This installation was set on an abandoned and rusty shipping container at the Nigerian Railway compound in the city of Lagos. It was inspired by one visit to a local market where I saw this mirrors, they had a tape around them which read: Fragile. Handle with care. I thought it to be a great way of framing a mirror. Our fragmented reflections, our fragmented histories and life stories have been marked by the complex dialogue of identity, globalization, colonization and locality.
In some of the mirror I wrote quotes from Julia Kristeva’s book Strangers to Ourselves.
More and more I reflect upon the need to respect oneself. I have lived a life of lies. Disguising myself, trying to fit in the schemes of other broken selves.
What a better way to look at oneself than with the warning of “Handle with care”? Fanon argues that “a member of a colonized people must be constantly aware of his position, his image; he is being threatened from all sides”. Which selves are we reflecting-creating? How can I look at myself in the mirror without being frightened of what it brings about?