Ima-Abasi Okon

Russell & Robert meet British artist Ima-Abasi Okon. Ima's current solo exhibition is at VOID, Derry~Londonderry and runs until 25th April 2020. This episode was recorded in July 2019 during an earlier iteration of Ima's solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London. Ima works with sculpture, sound and video to produce installations that explore exhibition-making as an exercise in syntax, adopting linguistic and grammatical structures within her installations as a way of complicating the construction of knowledge.


For the VOID iteration of the commission, a series of industrial air conditioners are adapted to become hosts for a new multi-channel sound piece comprising an existing audio track that has been slowed down. Acting as both a cooling system for the gallery and as a vehicle for the sound work, the fans perform at various speeds and durations.


In another gallery the ceiling has been partially lowered using a standardised modular system, often found within offices, retail spaces, waiting rooms and other administrative environments. The mass-produced ceiling tiles have been smeared with an invisible mixture of morphine, insulin, ultrasound gel and gold, imbuing the otherwise everyday objects with a personal, totemic charge.


Hand-crafted glass light shades, each adorned with an opulent design and filled with palm oil and Courvoisier VS Cognac, hang from the ceiling. With the introduction of these liquids, the lights emit a golden glow, further highlighting an atmospheric friction between Okon's production processes, pointing to the possibilities of magic as a sculptural act. Okon's ongoing use of oriented strand board, painted with varnish and framed with 'exotic woods' further explore how value is assigned to a given object or material through its categorisation, modes of display and origin.


Ima-Abasi Okon is currently participating in the residency programme at Rijksakademie Academy for fine arts, Amsterdam. For more about Ima’s work please visit or follow @i_a_okon. For exhibition images: @DerryVoid and @ChisenhaleGallery. Special thanks to Polly Staple & Ellen Greig at Chisenhale and Mary Cremin & Tansy Cowley at VOID. Finally, THANK YOU for listening! We love to hear your feedback. @talkart


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