Frida Orupabo explores themes of race, gender, sexuality, violence, the gaze, post-colonialism and identity working in media that in their nature are fragmented and multifarious. Employing image platforms including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Tumblr as both source and tool Orupabo engages in the simultaneously monolithic and splintered abundance of images that define race and gender. In their wiki-generated content and labile fluidity these platforms both reinforce and disrupt established norms.
Although self-taught and working otherwise as a social worker in Oslo, Orupabo has for many years created digital collages which she cuts and manipulates, using photographs from personal archives and found images. This combination of sources connects her personal history to a collective story, the private and political, in a matrix of appropriated images. More recently she has started to produce large scale figurative collages in paper, layer upon layer, like fabric, joined with split pins in a way that recalls paper dolls.
In 2013 Orupabo started a curated stream of images on her Instagram feed. As a platform Instagram acts as an ever-evolving collage. The video loops gain intensity in their repetition and the feed, with it’s flowing stream of accumulated images, acts as a site for hoarding.
Born to a Norwegian mother and Nigerian father, Orupabo often uses colonial photographs to investigate the way black women are portrayed as hyper-sexualized, deviant and a subject of curiosity and study. She explores how these loaded images address race and gender relations; pain, powerlessness, abuse, and violence, but also strength, power and resistance. She engages in the ambivalence and possible interpretations of this historic material and through a process of fragmentation and re-articulation her work subverts objectification of these figures.
In 2016 Orupabo connected with the American multimedia artist Arthur Jafa via Instagram. This contact developed into an important dialog and a collaborative spirit emerged which led to Jafa's inclusion of Orupabo's collages in his exhibition A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2017) followed by the ongoing exhibition at the Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin. Subsequently their cooperation branched out and Jafa invited Orupabo as creative consultant for Jay Z's music video 4:44 and Jen Nkiru’s cinematic short Rebirth is Necessary.
Frida Orupabo was born in 1986 in Sarpsborg, Norway and lives and works in Oslo. Her ongoing Instagram feed is titled nemiepeba. Her participation in Arthur Jafa's exhibition A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions was first presented at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London in 2017 and continues at Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin till 25th November 2018. Earlier this year she presented her first solo exhibition at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York. She has an upcoming solo presentation at Kunstnernes Hus Oslo, 2019.