What? Portals exhibition by Nigerian artist Njideka Akuniyli Crosby exploring diasporic identity

When? 4 Oct – 5 Nov 2016

Where? Victoria Miro Gallery (16 Wharf Rd, London, N1 7RW)

How much? Free!

The nondescript exterior of the Victoria Miro building only adds to the allure of the venue. On quieter days, a visitor might feel a sense of exclusivity, as though being let in on a well-protected secret. On particularly busy days, such as on the evenings of openings or on weekends, the queue for the venue might stretch along the entire road.



“So once people really begin to pull the space apart and [try to understand] what’s happening there is this feeling of being unable to put either the character or the space into a clearly defined box, because it doesn’t exist.” – Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Crosby’s work attests to the complexity of diasporic identity. Considering the personal biography of the artist moving from Nigeria to the US at 16, her art explores what for many is a very relatable mind-boggle of being ‘from’ and ‘of’ multiple places and how this manifests in a peculiar, specific yet unplaceable cultural duality.

For example, next to images of ‘back home’ in the form Nigerian jerry cans and gasoline lamps stood images of cosmopolitan dress and modern technologies like Crosby’s Macbook. This is not to suggest that these images are mutually exclusive or necessarily contesting – instead, it subtly reflects the realities of a more fluid and ever evolving globalised world. The actual methods used by the artist – i.e. photo transfers to create multi-layered, dense montages – attest to the concepts of the complexity of diaspora.

The explorative and multidimensional nature of Crosby’s work both in concept and in materials and medium makes it unsurprising that her work is becoming increasingly sought after by art collectors. Her productions definitely add sincere value to the discussions of diasporic identity and the contemporary experiences of people of colour, as sustained or and reflected figures like fellow igbo Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie in literature, Paul Gilroy in academia and artists like Burna Boy in music.