Excerpts from the Manifold Zine: Ayoade Bamgboye

Ayoade Bamgboye
An exhibition of black female emerging artists in Soho
Greek Street, Soho, 2022
17-24 November 2022
What are you activating in this work by performing it? Essentially, how do you think the performance will change the work?

I think it could change everything, or it could change nothing. And I feel like it would be an iterative exercise that may or may bring the stream to life in a different way. But I think that the performance element kind of feels like a connection to my exploration into stand up [comedy. Especially in these spaces, these art spaces that are typically not really amenable to comedy. And I mean, you've read it, there's some things in my stream that are kind of bonkers.

Yeah, I think actually, that's really funny that you say that, because I love art that makes me laugh. And not to laugh at, actually, but to laugh with. Or not to be laughed at as an audience member. And I don't know why the art world has to be so serious.

I honestly rarely see funny work. And it's bizarre

There is obviously vulnerability in any art-making, but this feels particularly so. How do you feel about people having access to you in this way? There is a voyeurism that i want to try and convey in the display of the work as well

It does feel very exposing, like my flesh is raw. Because I remember my brother recoiling a little bit when he read my stream in Sweet Joy, Sweet Suffering. And that response was disheartening in the sense that  there are some people who will react to the stream like “this is too much” . Or like, there's a reason why thoughts are  in your head. But I think that's true of my creative expressions in my different mediums. Writing comedy and creating these worlds and telling these stories that are necessarily an extension of me and my psyche and my experience. It doesn't work if it's not baring everything. For me. I think I can tell when art is not a true extension of the soul or expression of the soul. But I think something changed with Sweet Joy, Sweet Suffering. The moment when I decided that I would do a stream, and I would share that stream, it was just like a flip of a switch of “I can’t be scared of this stuff now”. Because if I'm choosing this life, then it doesn't really make sense if I'm not open to vulnerability.

And then what is your favourite line in the stream?

That is so so so hard. haven't finished I'm still adding to it. But right now I'm looking at it, I really like this line of “I'll never know what it feels like to get a match point or whatever they call it at the US Open and drop to the floor and unbelievable victory that’s fucked up.” I think that's my favourite line right now just because it also reflects a yearning for realities that can never happen.

One of my things is that I love text. I know art is meant to evoke feelings, but I’m the type of person that needs to read about art to fully understand it. And a lot of the works in the show have a relationship to text as well. You made a key to kind of explain the work, and allow people to understand what it means. I love the idea of things not being obscure or obtuse, especially in art spaces where lack of clarity is supposedly meant to add depth to things. Why was that important to you?

Because as much as I joke about “Oh I love to cause confusion”, I think confusion is a comedic vehicle. But the punchline is not that people stay confused. I think clarity, and clarity of thought, is something that most, if not all, artists should gift to the people that they're sharing their work with. And I've been to exhibitions, where it feels like I'm on LSD, but the LSD is like, really bad quality. And I have no idea what's going on. And it's such a disorienting feeling. And I just, I hate to be starved of beauty. And if it's not beautiful, then at least, it must be clear. And I don’t think I'm the kind of artist who would have obscurity as one of my personality traits. That’s so [redacted]  

And finally, what does manifold mean to you?

To be fair I had to google manifold. But when I saw that definition,  I immediately just felt warm, because I've been someone who's really tried to beat myself into specialisms. I think I put so much pressure on myself about mastering, being masterful, like an expertise and a calling card that is just one and done. And something like manifold is about questions of what an abundance and a multiplicity could look like for me. And what it could look like in the company of other women. Black female artists who answer the call of multitudes as well. Because it's tough. It's not easy. And when you're doing more than one thing there is so much scope for confusion, dilution of your craft. But I think what manifold means to me is experimentation, and it’s an invitation to think about how things can live in different ways in different times in different layers without stopping myself and saying that you shouldn't do this. Especially since scarcity appears to be the order of the day. And I think manifold is a rejection of scarcity. And it feels like it's timely. It means a lot actually. It's been really transformative actually.