Ikè Ude PDF

Ikè Ude. I strongly identify myself with Ramses II

Miriam Mirolla in conversation with Ikè Ude

Intervista tradotta in italiano e pubblicata in L'Arte c'est moi! Quindici interviste sull'arte contemporanea, Avagliano Ed., Roma, 2006

I see that is no food in your refrigerator but only films and vitamins. Why, what
do you nead them for?

Well, I certainly nead films in order to make photographs and the fridge is undoubtedly the best place to store films. This way, the film’s life-span is considerably longer. As for vitamins, they are excellent source for necessary supplements. My eating habit lack a wide range.

How do mean by “wide range”? I mean, what is your eating habit like?

Well, it’s pretty simple. I basically eat the same thing everyday: brown rice, garlic and broccoli. And for deserts: Blueberry yougurt, pistachio and occasional cigarette and certainly lots of Earl Grey Tea. I’m pretty much conservative and boring in the culinary department.

Are you vegetarian? You sound like one.

I was a striat vegetarian for a period of 12 years, but then I discovered fish, Red Snapper at a Thai restaurant, and that’s pretty much when I added fish to my diet. And fish has proven to be a good energy booster for me.

Your activity is rather complex and wide right now. How do define yourself: photographer, aesthete, filmmaker, publisher, or whatelse?

Yes, an aesthete, variously a publisher, writer, photographer, filmmaker, artist, etc. It would be easy describe oneself as simply this or that, fortunately, I have never felt a need to describe my self in the singular. My talent has always been a protean one. And I was somewhat lucky to discover other protean talents, like John Cocteau, Man Ray, Wharol and even Leonardo da Vinci. These artists were a “type” obliged with multiple talents that – I’m sure – begged for execution. Likewise, I feal that insatiable and inevitable need to execute my multiple talents.
At the end of the day, it’s awfully simplistic to neatly compartementalize artistic desciplines as though if they are absolutely foreign and mutually exclusive from each other, but the fact is that an accomplished artist can always express him or herself in different mediums-be it through photography, painting, music, fashion, poetry, photography, etc. All mediums have their limitations and no medium is
satisfactory enough for the consumate artist.

Towards the end of an interview in a Canadian Newspaper, you posed a question to the journalist, “How are you going to identify me in your article?” Is identification a major issue in your work?

I’m not so sure. But I am very weary of people’s myopic tendencies to violate me by naming me this or that. There is a certain violence that issues from naming or branding someone. In that interview, to name me, would have allowed her to violate my potential breadth or unlimited capacity to be anything that I may fancy or desire.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Nigeria. But I like to think that I was born in the Pharaonic Egypt before the Arabs marred it with Islam, and Mohammed. Such a tragedy.

What do like of the Pharaonic era?

I think that was the era when Africa was not only the cradle of civilization but Africans were truly in their best form and I strongly identify with Ramses II.

In which forms do you find Africans today?

In general, due to poor leadership, Africans are in lousy form, full of lethargy. But there are some exception individuals, in the arts for instance, you have Nigerians like to Noble Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

How do you identify yourself with Ramses II, for his power of seduction?

He was such a beauty, such a graceful leader and of course he was the one Pharaoh that really captivates me. There is this one picture of him, with his finger a touch tremulous, lingering close to his lips. His ease of gesture, thoughtful, eerily had an indefinable taint of poetic melancholy and liminal heroism.
I would say Michael Jackson and to a degree, David Bowie.

So, why did you shave off Micheal’s hair, in your work “A Touch of Dalilah”?

Particulary in Michael’s case-unlike the other man that I made bald-my intention is not so much to deny him the camouflaging benefit of hair, but it is rather to reveal his genius, beauty and strenght without the distraction of his hair. Michael Jackson belongs to the next century and centuries sto come. He has singularly rendered useless and demystified our fixed notions of race, gender, age and sex. He is a hero because he typifies the exact opposite of a heroic appearance.

In a “New York Times” article about magazine “aRUDE”, you declared that “Our goal is a very sincere reverence for the beautiful”. How do you define beauty?

Beauty to me, is an all consuming passion, it’s that indefinable something thatcauses in a sensitive mind a certain stir. Beauty comes in many forms, alternately tangible and intangible.

With “aRUDE” magazine, you are making a kind of devolution between fashion, art, photography. How was the magazine born?

“aRUDE” is simply an extention of my artistic exercise, it i san artistic medium far beyond the reach of my detractors, and traditional art police who within the provincial art world have the brute power to arbitrary dictate which artist to promote. Thank goodness, they are replaceable, and in the long run thair opinions does not matter anyway.

“aRUDE” seams to me as a kind of collective intellectual and artistic arena in contemporary New York scene. Who are your contributors?

I work with the best, you have notable writers, like Hilton Als of the “New Yorker”, Valerie Steele of FIT, Ronnie Britton and Michael Grosso f the “New York Times”, and esteemed photographers such as Ruven Afanador, Sara Moon, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, to name a few. And there are all these incredible hairstylists, makeup-artists, models, fashion designers, graphic designers, etc.

What distinguishes “aRUDE” from other magazine?

“aRUDE” is not just a magazine. It is a “type” of magazine, but essentially an indicator of the new versus the old. It is prototypical. It’s a magazine as a mode of artistic medium, mobile, ubiquitious, and far reaching than your traditional mortar and brick gallery that is imobile and reachable by a few.

I see a pair of boxing gloves hanging on the wall. What are then for?

It’s merely a prop that a friend of mind bought in Chinatown. Later I found a use for them in my work. I used it in my “HE” series, where I parodied masculinity.
Boxing glove i san insignia of hypermasculinity, think of Mike Tyson, Mohammed Alì, but in my work, feminized with makeup, masculinized with gloves, I posed a paradox. I suppose that this could be a read as a contradiction, but the point is that no one is that invincibile, regardless of gender.

Which other issues about masculinity did you focus on throughout your autoportraits?

The taboo and anxiety surrounding male impotence, tiny penis, Viagra and men’s secret desire for beauty problematized by their pretense no to care about appearances. In general, I’m afraid, the male specie, in want of critical grooming, is alarmingly indistinguishable from pigs.

And does the external beauty always reflect a psychological one?

The two are not mutually exclusive. The one alternately informs the other.

Beauty seams to be about perfection. But how would you explain the beauty of willful or accidental imperfection?

Imperfection does work sometimes, as long as it is carried off in a beautiful attitude. Yet, if Caliban could have managed a smile in front of the mirror, we could at least forgive his imperfections.

Do you really find that you are beautiful?

I would be sincere to a fault, if I say yes. But as an aesthete, the dialectis of beauty, in all its variety, is a consequential discipline.

Contradiction is also at the base of the “Cover Magazine” series, in which you celebrate your presence in the media system, while the fake titles are quite tragically ironic. Do the viewer has to read them with a conceptual approach?

The viewers are certainly free to respond to the covers however they choose. They can haul their prejuidices, project thei insecurities, acquiesce to the candor of my parody, absurdity, contradiction and the fact of the matters at hand.

Do you see your work rather sociological or sociopolitical?

All arts encompass both elements. In my work, I always go beyond these elements by finding a tenuous balance that is partial to beauty and intellect.

“Faking is a very good way of deflacting your opponent”, you said, referring to the sport strategy as similar to your artistic strategy. But who do you consider your opponents? The viewer, the art critic, or whoelse?

There are various kinds of opponents in any game, from the imaginary to the real ones. To be sure, I appreciate only smart opponents, without them, there is no excitement in a game.

In the April, 1999 issue of Spanish “Vogue”, your Vogue portraits, from “Cover Girl” were published in it. Isn’t it a contradiction? Don’t you feel much “integrated” in this way?

I do not feel integrated, not that I mind it, but I see my portraits there, more as a cameo appearance than anything. At any rate, I do commend them for their lovely gesture. Perhaps next time, they might consider me for their cover.
Japanese Studio Voice, a major monthly Japanese magazine have had me on their cover due to “Cover Girl”. You never know.

Which will be your next show?

It’s the first comprehensive survey of my work - paintings, constructions, works on paper, conceptual-installation works, photography, “aRUDE” – in the last ten years. The show commences at the ICA at Maine College of Art, then to Fogg Museum, Harvard University and other venues in US, Canada and Europe.

You defined “Self love as the genesis of love”. What do you mean by this statement?

It’s actually a popular saying, nonetheless, in order to fully comprehend, appreciate and give love, one must understand it from within. Without self-love, one invariably resort to base love, which is characterized by a give-and-take reciprocity.

I noticed at least six mirrors in your studio. What do you use them for?

Only the guilty are afraid to look in the mirror. I think that most people who shy from the mirror, are afraid that they might turn out to be Calibans. Strategically placed at varying angles and locations, I used the mirror to watch uninitiated guests, and conversely to communicate with familiar friends.

What do you think of the condition of contemporary art?

It goes without saying that the cultural or artistic value of today’s contemporary art is terribly marginal. Unlike in music and fashion, fine arts, especially in this closing decade, still operates on a 19th century model, while pretending that all is well. Funny enough, their desperation in courting the fashion industry, betrays their pretense. A type coolly partial to Apollonian and Diyonisian sympathies.

Which is your personal theory of decorum?

Decorum is that inevitable mask we call culture. Without decorum, there is no culture and without culture we are nature. Nature is mostly base. I suppose that explains why when nature exerts upon our biological functions or desire we invariable hide behind the bathroom or bedroom. All the world’s beautiful cities are not famous for their nature, but their culture. Clearly cities are great cultural

Do you consider fashion a significant cultural product?

Needless to say. Fashion is culture. What would become of culture if were to carry about naked, without distinctions in quality, hierarchy, class, religion, gender not that I necessarily subscribe to these distinctions.

What I find boring in fashion is the “fake pose” of images and the lack of spontaneity.

Fashion and its attendant “fake pose” ironically mirrors society’s decorum. Decorum is wit over our ugly nature. Style, not fashion, is what I’m about. Imagine the Pope or any world leader, naked, addressing his or her public.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a couple of art projects. In addition, I’m in various stages of preparation on a feature film, while nearly finished with “Je Te Veux”, an experimental film.

What is the experimental one about?

It’s called “Je Te Veux”, both the title and music is by Erik Satie. I invited different choreographers, Bill T. Jones, John Kelley, Desmond Richardson, Stephen Petronio etc., to each respectively interprete in their own way “Je Te Veux”. In effect I would love to see to what degree music informs a dancer or vice versa. In the overall design, there is one constant, the music, and about eight variants, the choreographers.

And what is the feature film about?

It’s called “The Exquisities”. In a sketch, is about dandyism, decadence, style, wit and amorality. It’s non-linear, but it does have it’s decisive point of view.

How do you define style?

Style is not just form and substance. It is also the luxurious deliberation of intelligence in the face of boundaries.


MM quotations

Previous Succ.
"Ogni artista della seconda metà del secolo nasce all'insegna dell'esperienza diretta o indiretta della guerra, e dal modo in cui risponde simbolicamente alla morte, alla perdita e al lutto attraverso la propria creatività" (Miriam Mirolla, 2001)
"Any individual, before he can be considered an artist, is an explosive mixture of collective biography and individual pathology" (Miriam Mirolla, 1999)
"Gli Stimoli Psycho-Pop sono degli autoritratti spietati, antigraziosi, ready-made psichici che conducono la nostra percezione verso il limite del guardabile" (Miriam Mirolla, 2011)
“Nelle diverse poetiche delle giovani artiste del nostro tempo riconosciamo un comune denominatore, ovvero la ricerca di una nuova fisionomia femminile capace di tenere uniti desiderio e creatività, corpo e mente, come mai la cultura patriarcale era riuscita a proporre finora”. (Miriam Mirolla, 2010)
“Grande è la fiducia che riponiamo nel giovane artista. Cosa ci aspettiamo? Semplicemente che cambi la storia introducendo suo malgrado un nuovo sistema di valori.” (Miriam  Mirolla, 2010)
“Mi chiedo quali siano le sensazioni e i pensieri di un giovane artista oggi, quali siano i suoi convincimenti e dove affondi il proprio ideale dell’io. Come siano articolati i suoi dubbi e i momenti di incertezza. I sintomi del malessere e le forme del benessere. Da dove tragga forza per difendere i propri contenuti emotivi e intellettivi. E quale possa essere il motore mobile della sua ricerca estetica.” (Miriam Mirolla, 2010)
“L’arte ha lo scopo di allungare il nostro sguardo sulle relazioni d’amore” (Miriam Mirolla, 2010)
“Il rapporto del soggetto con la presenza fantasmatica è il nuovo asse conoscitivo del XXI secolo” (Miriam Mirolla, 2010)
“La realtà più la sua interpretazione è oggi la linea maestra dell’arte, scopo e prospettiva, futuro dell’immagine e immagine del futuro” (Miriam Mirolla, 2010)


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