Student Work

  • Fine Arts (MFA)

    Liona Robyn

    African Juju

    Media: burnt log, 3 bags of charcoal, canvas, charcoal pigment, acrylic solution

    In this project I am playing on the words 'African Juju.' Juju is a word that means magic or can be used to mean voodoo. The work is a play on the notion of Africa as a dark continent filled with magic and voodoo or juju. In this work the juju lies in the transformation of the raw material into a commodified object . From the burnt wooden log, to the charcoal produced by it to become a pigment and finally it becomes a monochromatic black charcoal painting. The process of transformation is not shown and becomes a type of magic trick as the means of production happen elsewhere and the commodified object appears as if out of no where. The monochromatic black eludes in particular to the history of the monochromatic black paintings as they have been explored in western modernism and 'African Juju' adds another layer of reading which eludes to race, geography, history, economy, labour and diaspora. 'African Juju' also looks into the idea of western abstraction as a 'pure' form and challenges this notion by eluding to the process of production, which western abstraction has not always discussed within abstract art.