Artist Spotlight: Ifeatu Nnaobi

26 October, 2021

Ifeatu Nnaobi (she/they) is a filmmaker and photographer focused on conceptual and documentary storytelling. Ifeatu works closely with communities; centring queer, feminist, and migrant narratives through an intersectional approach.

Nnaobi’s work has been featured at The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Sheffield DocFest, Future of Storytelling NYC, Haus der Kulturen Welt, and Les Rencontres d’Arles. Ifeatu is a National Geographic Explorer and is currently based in Berlin, Germany.

Image Credit: Ifeatu Nnaobi

Nnaobi’s answers to our questions were frank and honest, really highlighting her passions and priorities in her artwork and storytelling:

What does the theme ‘Connection’ mean to you/your practice?

“It is the bedrock of all the work that I do. I don’t live in a vacuum and I normally begin a project because I am interested in that topic, want to learn more about it and would like to engage with other people in that topic too. This is the reason most of my work is heavily testimonial based. I want to explore topics I am curious about with more people.”

We are celebrating our 10 year anniversary, where were you 10 years ago (creatively speaking)?

“I was writing an anonymous blog for lesbian and queer women called Dyke Road. I don’t write it anymore so I can now share. I started writing Dyke Road in response to the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill in Nigeria. The government was in the process of introducing some of the most horrendous anti-LGBT laws in the world and but were also claiming that gay people did not exist in Nigeria. I was young, and although I did not live in Nigeria at that point, I wanted to write my history and that of my friends. I wrote a combination of serious things like the mental health impact of being in the closet or homophobic abuse from friends and family, and light-hearted things like pop culture and casual sex. I kept the blog for about 4 years. In many ways, it was the beginning of my art journey. I am very much driven to make art that reflects that times.

How do you hope the arts build back better after the pandemic?

“I hope that governments and other institutions that fund the arts will realise that it is just as essential as other essential services. I also hope that artists can take finding ways to fund the arts that are outside the global capitalist system more seriously.”

Image Credit: Ifeatu Nnaobi

Nnaobi’s unapologetically honest narratives on race, sex, gender, migration and displaced communities aim to make you see lives in a deeper manner.

Ancestral Wisdoms, which is being shown at Frequency Festival 2021 invokes deeper questions of heritage and connection for Black and people of colour living in the diaspora.

You will be able to ask your ancestors a question and, in response, hear from a Black or person of colour living in the diaspora what they wished they could ask their ancestor.

Ifeatu Nnaobi says this on their website about Ancestral Wisdoms:

“The project itself becomes wisdom that the protagonists are leaving behind for their descendants.

This pays homage to the tradition of passing down wisdom and knowledge through oral storytelling in many Black and Brown indigenous cultures. A tradition that continues today for many valuable reasons but also because of marginalisation from mainstream media.”

Experience the interactive installation on the 28th-30th October at Lincoln Central Library between 10am and 4pm. See our website for more details!

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