Olukemi Lijadu

Olukemi Lijadu is a multi-disciplinary artist and DJ, with a focus on moving image and sound. She recently was a recipient of the The ICA’s Image Behaviour grant where she was commissioned to create and debut her most recent film-performance Guardian Angel.
She graduated from Stanford University in 2017 with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Political Science. In 2018 she graduated from Stanford a masters student in Philosophy where she focused on African philosophical systems.

Trading Memories Part I is a moving image work and soundscape that includes film, sound and photography and based on a collection of photos of a middle class family in Lagos. I found these photographs in 2021 in an antique market in London’s Notting Hill. They were being sold amongst piles of otherwise discarded goods for two pounds. I was struck to find these images, a time capsule, far away from the point of their capture. The time and place where these photographs were taken were immediately clear to me, in a way that felt instinctual. I seemed to just know that this was a Nigerian Yoruba family in the early 2000s.

But what is it to just know? This is what I am investigating in this series of works. In Trading Memories Part I, I am investigating the photographs, not just as objects of memory and a family history but as a site of encounter, between myself and the images. I tease apart the moments of recognition and focus on them. A recurring element in Trading Memories Part I is the close up which highlights moments of recognition - the things I saw or I could feel in these photographs which revealed a life that paralleled mine. The harmattan dust collected on the black polished buckled shoes, the texture of the birthday girl’s tulle “aunty give me cake” dress, crates of soft drinks in glass bottles, white socks, a Barbie birthday cake, all motifs from my own childhood having grown up in Lagos.