Pleasure Is All Mine

by Lola Ogbara

Aug. 13 – Sept. 7, 2020
The Gallery at The Kranzberg

To navigate this world in a Black identity is to be constantly and consistently ‘othered’; to live in the surreal; above (or below) reality. To experience this otherness through gender obscurity places an additional obstacle. What happens when this surreality and obscurity is combined and made to be used as an agent of reclamation?

Pleasure is All Mine is a compilation of works (sculpture, collages, and photographs) that uses ‘othered’ and grotesque rhetorics as a visual aesthetics; alongside, pleasure activism frameworks to imagine a unique lens in which Western society views the Black feminine experience as whole and with full agency. I attempt to reconstruct viewership by transcending tensions of hyper-visibility and invisibility. Exploring moments that alter the power dynamics of the gaze, I use distorted images while blurring the line between object and body to disrupt the gaze.

“The pleasure you have in gazing at me actually lies with me; as it is my pleasure that you actually have the moment in gazing.”

What does it mean to want and not want to be seen at the same time? What happens when the gaze is obscured and returned? What happens when the subject finds pleasure from it? Obscurity in seeing and/or knowing the object presents space between object and viewer; ultimately, changing power dynamics as we know it. Pleasure is All Mine implicates the viewer as they are confronted with their own positioning in the Western world of social dynamics regarding viewership of the Black feminine body.

Lola Ogbara, photo by Collin Elliott

LOLA AYISHA OGBARA is an interdisciplinary artist, sculptor, and arts administrator with additional experience in mixed media, painting, design, photography, and illustration. Her practice explores the multifaceted implications and ramifications of sexuality in regards to the Black experience. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Ogbara works with clay as a material in order to emphasize a necessary fragility that symbolizes an essential contradiction implicit in empowerments. 

Ogbara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago in 2013 and an MFA in Visual Arts from Washington University Sam Fox School of Art & Design. In 2017, Ogbara co-founded Artists in the Room, a collective of artists and scholars who host artists, emerging and well-known, in hopes of serving as a catalyst for artist development and networking. Ogbara has also received numerous fellowships and awards, including the Multicultural Fellowship sponsored by the NCECA 52nd Annual Conference. 

Ogbara has exhibited in galleries across the country. She is currently dually based in St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois working as a visual artist and arts administrator.