Eto Otitigbe's "Loss Prevention" in the LookOut! Gallery

January 21, 2013 (All day) - February 15, 2013 (All day)
LookOut! Gallery
362 Bogue Street
East Lansing, MI 48825
United States

The RCAH is sponsoring our second annual artist in residence exhibition in the series “Perspectives on African-American Experience: Emerging Visions,” with support from the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. Artist Eto Otitigbe will be in residency in the RCAH from January 19 through 26, and will exhibit “Loss Prevention” in the RCAH's LookOut! Art Gallery from January 21 through February 15, 2013. The LookOut! is open Monday through Friday, 12 to 3 p.m.

All are welcome at the following events for Eto Otitigbe's "Loss Prevention" exhibit:

Loss Prevention:

“Loss Prevention” is a theme that raises as many questions as it answers. It urges us to reflect on how we prepare for inevitable loss, how we cope with unexpected loss, and how we act to prevent future loss. What capacities can we bring to bear on our experiences of loss? How do these help us to situate, understand, and distinguish the varieties of loss, including those brought about by natural disasters, human indifference or violence, and social policies?

Eto Otitigbe believes “that loss prevention is possible and necessary. HIV/AIDS health workers,” he notes, “would argue that their efforts have resulted in fewer viral transmissions, thus reducing the loss of life.”

Eto goes on to explain that while alarms, barriers, and surveillance systems can be used to prevent loss, so can rituals. As symbolic gestures that celebrate or show commitment to ideals, rituals can be used for remembrance or for coping with loss.

For example, Eto describes his piece entitled Spray in relation to ideas of loss, remembrance, and celebration. “By drilling a spiraling pattern of holes into a fire hose nozzle, I decommissioned a relic whose historical use was for racial crowd control. The nozzle was repurposed as a sort of celebratory object that can be used to reflect on the sacrifices many people made for the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.”

About another work, a triptych entitled Becoming Visible, Eto writes that he “used a software algorithm to carve a photorealistic self-portrait into fiberboard. In the portrait I don a hoodie, paying homage to Trayvon Martin. The fabrication method requires an onlooker to move around the fixed piece in order for the image to come into focus. This ‘dance’ is very much like the conversations that occur when matters of race and discrimination are discussed in the United States. Further, the line work used to create the images has a cultural relevance to me. The patterns were inspired by historical woodcarvings and bronze statues from Benin, West Africa. Many of these works depict the King or ‘Oba’ of Benin with lines that contour his face. These lines were a form of scarification and ethnic taxonomy. By placing the lines on my face, I am expressing empathy for the families of innocent African American men whose lives were taken unjustly.”

Familiar though the objects may be, Eto layers them with references and meanings that bring out their latent connections. We begin to think not only about the nature of loss but of what it is that we have lost and how we can honor and redeem that loss, individually and collectively.

Meet the artist:

Eto Otitigbe describes himself as a sculptor and polymedia artist. Using custom-made software and tools from the domains of engineering and architecture, he “investigates power geometries between people and the cultural by-products of struggle.” Eto combines original and archival video footage to create mediascapes. As he states, “I can re-mix a sculpture or an installation just as a DJ mixes music tracks. The technopolitical nature of my work enables people to access it from many different entry points.”

Eto’s educational path reflects these intersections. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, while also engaged in apprenticeships in printmaking, sculpture, and installation. His MS in Engineering Product Design is from Stanford University, and his MFA is from the Transart Institute, a low-residency, international, individualized arts program. Based in New York City, Eto has participated in several exhibitions and performances, and has been the recipient of awards, grants, and fellowships. Recently, Eto was selected to participate in the 2013 Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Program; his work will be included in the second AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum this summer.

Eto summarizes his biography in this way: “Throughout my life, I have learned to negotiate the various poles of my identity: Nigerian-American-Artist-Engineer-Designer-DJ-Musician, to name a few. I was born in upstate New York but I have lived in various cities across the United States, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. I consider myself an open system in constant flux, influenced by all of these places and the people I have met.”

Additional Media
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