SUCH PECULIARITIES – OBI BLANCHE {ARTIST TO WATCH}

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Such Peculiarities My Dear -­ solo exhibition by Obi Blanche

At its center ‘Such Peculiarities My Dear’ asks the questions: what does it mean to be human, and how, in the ever­changing landscape of identity politics, do we, individually or collectively, assume a position of acceptance or resistance. During my conversations with the artist we discussed the idiosyncratic nature of subcultures and how they tend to breed a particular form of ignorance which sees the participant’s individualism smothered under one homogenised label or, frequently, a negative – collective – stereotype. In this exhibition the artist facilitates an experience which forces the viewer to investigate their own individualism – raising the question: how much agency do we actually have in the creation of our own identity? As fragmented, raw and unscripted ‘snapshots’ the images meet at an intersection between eccentricity and vulnerability – documenting a surreal or fantastical moment in time that is more indicative of a desire than a sustained reality. The subjects project a rebellion, a longing not simply to be understood but re­interpreted by their viewer. They call into question the precarious divide between attachment and estrangement as they strive, simultaneously, to author their own originality and transcend their susceptibilities.

The images the artist presents us with negotiate the space between brutality and fragility; often depicting or indeed invoking a sense of liberation whereby the subjects work to oppose ‘mainstream’ (read conservative) notions of ‘acceptability’. As we come into contact with the images we, however momentarily, begin to live within the image. We establish a connection with the artist’s subjects – a connection which is grounded in our own inescapable anxieties and presuppositions – and a connection which allows us to become critically aware of our place in time; what is it which we ‘subscribe’ to and how influential is that ‘subscription’ to the way in which we organise, operate and present ourselves on a day­to­day basis? Finally, these photographs – captured on the streets of Melbourne and behind closed doors – project the public and private spheres of their subject’s existence and, in doing so, challenge us to consider how faithful we are to our complete, albeit complicated, self.

Joseph Appleton.

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