Founded in 2016, London, UK
Born Newport News, USA (1990), lives and works between Cayenne, French Guiana and London, UK
AIRI: BONE ALTAR 2024
metal, cotton fabric, recycled plastic, natural dyes
4m x 7m
Courtesy of Yussef Agbo-Ola / Olaniyi Studio
The production of this work was supported by OLANIYI STUDIO.
Commissioned by Lagos Biennial 2024
AIRI: BONE ALTAR is a living architectural entity for worshipping non-human life and extinct species. Celebrating earth’s unique ability to create life through decay and reincarnation, this living architectural structure is designed to collaborate with the sunlight to cast ancestral shadows and environmental messages that reflect on climate change. It honors ephemeral rituals across architecture, performance and art within Yoruba communities that respect the natural world and foreground environmental consecration. Yussef’s chosen material is fabric, for its skin-like quality, porousness, and scalability. To create this sensory environment, organic cotton is knitted together, and held on a metal frame by jute fibre referencing scared architectural artifacts within Yoruba and Cherokee cultures: from animal skins used in Yoruba shrines.
Each fabric component is stretched together to form an architectural organism or ‘skin’ and dyed with local natural dyes. The various knitted motifs and dye patterns represent spirits, ancestors and environmental entities that human life depends on. Its form and patterns also mimic unseen micro-organisms, and the porous layers of ecosystems in a forest and lagoons. The altar is a sacred meeting place of contemplation for the living, non living, human and non human.
Olaniyi Studio seeks to realize a new living artwork in the form of a public and site-responsive sacred architectural altar. The altar will re-frame architecture akin to a living organism reacting to changing environmental entities and ancestral exchange.
Yussef Agbo-Ola / OLANIYI STUDIO’s work is included in REFUGE teams.