'The Middle Passage, Alice in Wonderland' exhibition of work by Nathalie Mba Bikoro

November 6, 2012

9th November – 15th December 2012

Private View: Thursday 8th November 2012, 6:30-8:30pm

Tiwani Contemporary in association with Ed Cross Fine Art is delighted to present The Middle Passage: Alice in Wonderland, the first solo exhibition in London by the interdisciplinary artist Nathalie Mba Bikoro. Bikoro’s series of photo etchings depicting a new Alice travelling through Wonderland is an evolving body of work which explores concepts of identity in relation to gender, matriarchal and patriarchal relationships, anthropology and the mythologizing of the African continent through time using a visual narrative of appropriation. The exhibition will feature live performance by the artist at the private view as well as showing video of Bikoro’s performance art both of which are part of the series.

In this work Bikoro appropriates images from the archives, from popular culture and from her own photography to construct an altered reality which gives the audience signs which they recognise but denies and resists the desire to categorise as Bikoro’s narrative plays with time and location. Bikoro’s work is very much related to the artist’s own encounters and experiences and in the first in a series of larger scale photo etchings figures and experiences from the artist’s recent visits to Gabon, Senegal and South Africa are represented in the Wonderland.

For this exhibition Bikoro will install elements from the photo etchings into the gallery space, this will include the suspension of a carousel horse (seen repeated in Bikoro's large scale triptych 'Carousel/Blanc ou Noir Toutes Les Larmes sont Salées) from the ceiling as well as the display of a series of flags created by the artist using African fabrics. The inclusion of such elements not only mirrors objects within the photo etchings but also speaks directly to the artist's performance which is an inextricable part of this series of works. A flag can also be seen in the work, Les Statues Meurent aussi/we are martians, which shows Alice's encounter with astronauts in the wonderland. Alice is seen to interact with these seemingly alien figures from in front and above simultaneously as Bikoro represents an historical encounter between man and the unknown to the backdrop images of her village in Gabon.

Nathalie Mba Bikoro is a French-Gabonese interdisciplinary artist working with visual arts and live performance art. Bikoro uses her work and her writing to explore and make comment on identity, inspired by her personal experience as part of an African diaspora community. Creating site specific live performance art, Bikoro’s most recent performances speak directly to and are part of her first major series of photo etchings.

With an education in Politics, Philosophy and Media Arts (University of Greenwich), Art History and Fine Arts (Kingston University) and Curation (St. Martin’s School of Art) Bikoro is very much the intellectual artist her work drawing heavily on literature and academic debate.

Bikoro examines questions of identity and community through her work in relation to the relationship between Europe and Africa, specifically Gabon. Bikoro’s ten year battle with Leukaemia was fought out across Gabon, the Netherlands and France and has influenced the narrative and methods in which Bikoro chooses to create her work often using her own body as a site of performance. Bikoro’s personal struggle for recovery played out across geographical boundaries has helped Bikoro to forge a visual language which challenges the conceptual boundaries in the representation and appropriation of African bodies in literature, narrative and visual arts.

She has worked on many educational interdisciplinary arts projects and collaborations and has taught across Europe and Africa. Her exhibitions have travelled across Africa, South Latin America, South Korea & Europe including African Heritage London UK 2010; New Currencies Museum Johannesburg SA 2010; Contemporary African Art Art|Basel Switzerland 2010-11; DMZ Festival South Korea 2010; Perpendicular Casa i Rua Belo Horizonte Brazil 2011; Arts Biennale Sachnin Israel 2012; Dak'art Biennale Senegal 2012. Bikoro was most recently awarded a residency at the Fondation Blanchère and the Soleil D’Afrique Prize Mali