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Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju

10 Dec–28 Mar 21

Where do the edges of the individual end and those of the community begin? How can this reflexive relationship be used to recover knowledges and techniques that can resist and transmute the corruptions of oppressive systems?

In Hands Full of Air, Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju explores intuition and vulnerability as a starting point for a practice of collective care. Influenced by the ephemeral nature of blanket forts, the immersive installation comprises altered bedsheets and textiles contributed by her friends and artists from around the world. Each piece embodies an affective moment, a trace of intimacy, or a gesture of love. Into this collaborative support structure, Ilupeju weaves her own videos, paintings, fabrics and objects, in which she examines the formation of the self within constructed epistemologies of sexuality, history, and representation.

Ilupeju’s work is an attempt to dwell in the ambivalent space between exposure and isolation, to find recognition in the discomfort of shared vulnerabilities. By blurring the lines of authorship and borders, the artist reflects on the constitution of identity and on empathy as a tool of resistance. The subversion of the fort structure demonstrates the ways in which collective fragility and porosity can generate spaces where different forms of seeing and listening unfold and where vulnerability is transformed into resilience and self-empowerment.

With fabric contributions by  Sharmeen Anjum, Peter Basma-Lord, Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Lu Rose Biltucci, Ellie Lizbeth Brown, Federica Bueti, Lucia Pedroso Cabrera, Olivia Chou with Ally Zhao, Binta Diaw, Nathan Storey Freeman, Bambi Glass, Danny Greenberg, Riya Hamid, Nile Harris, Samhita Kamisetty, Avantika Khanna, Byron Kim, Eleanor Kipping, Beverly „KöTA WALi“, Kelly Krugman, Cooper Lovano, Markues,  Adam Milner, Emily Velez Nelms, Luiza Prado, Thomias Radin, Elliot Reed, Djibril Sall, Lorenzo Sandoval, Lili Somogyi, among others.

This exhibition is dedicated to my dear friend Byron Kim (1997-2020). My gratitude is endless and you are in my heart always.

Hands Full of Air marks the beginning of the exhibition series MY WORKING WILL BE THE WORK. on self/care, labour and solidarity curated by Linnéa Meiners and Jorinde Splettstößer.


About the artist

Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju is a transdisciplinary Nigerian-American artist living in Berlin. Ilupeju graduated from New York University in 2018 where she studied Studio Art (Honors Studio) and Social and Cultural Analysis. Recurring points of interest in her work include perversion and intuition, evolving sexuality in relation to intimacy, trauma, and body image, queer and anti-colonial methodologies, improvisation, and the recovery of child selves. Her main concern as an artist is to look at the frayed edges and ruptures of constructed realities and locate spaces where healing, liberation, and (re)generation can take place.

Ilupeju’s new work for Hands Full of Air was developed during her residency at the TIER – Institute for Endotic Research as part of the exhibition and event series Maintenance! Domestics as Institutional Becomings.

Interview with Monilola Olayemi Ilupeju about Hands Full of Air, by Mayra A. Rodríguez Castro


CURATOR Jorinde Splettstößer
CO-CURATOR Linnéa Meiners
INSTALL TEAM Claudio Aguirre, Johann Hackspiel, Felipe Monroy, Benjamin Thomas
PROJECT ASSISTANCE Dani Hasrouni, Sophie Lösch, Sophie McCuen-Koytek
TRANSLATIONS Saskia Köbschall, Sophie McCuen-Koytek
GALLERY SUPERVISION Ferdinand Gieschke, Daniel Noack

With the kind support of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe: Multi-sector Funding, Exhibition Fund Municipal Galleries and Fund Exhibition fees for visual artists.

Galerie im Turm is a facility of the district office Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.