In Conversation: Blackness as Field

Poet Claudia Rankine beautifully encapsulates Field Theories cover artist Toyin Ojih Odutola's work in a new article for Aperture, "A New Grammar for Blackness":

Blackness, for her, is not only her subject; it is also her question. The space of blackness is itself the subject of her portraits. Historically, in a narrow read, blackness becomes unilaterally a signifier of race. But in Odutola’s work, race is there or it is not there, but its presence is never without our perceptions and projections. Blackness on the level of the line simply fills the terrain of the body with blackness.
Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper. © the artist and courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper. © the artist and courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Odutola’s portraits explore how to desegregate blackness from a fixed racial position and open it out to all the mythology, missteps, racism, beauty, and life that is held by the term, while still landing it within the free space of bodies. She engages blackness as a field of tonality. [emphasis mine]

Read the rest of Rankine's Aperture article here.

See Odutola's cover image for Field Theories, plus find out more about the project, here.