Kelani Abass Casing History, Spilling Memories 1 2022

Abass makes works that excavate the social sites where photographs circulate. An artist who “engages archives,” he has said that “the use of photography coupled with printing techniques is highly important in my practice today.” Casing History consists of wooden letterpress cases populated with pictures from his family’s archive from the 1960s, when many African countries gained independence. Time has imparted gray, green, and sepia tones to these images, confounding our sense of their chronology. Also included in these cases are pages from a book coauthored by the artist’s late father and grandfather, which feature prayers, humorous anecdotes, incantations, and recipes in Yoruba and English. The book functions as both a conceptual compass for the artist and a physical manifestation of his discursive inheritance.

Gallery label from New Photography 2023: Kelani Abass, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Yagazie Emezi, Amanda Iheme, Abraham Oghobase, Karl Ohiri, Logo Oluwamuyiwa, May 28, 2023–September 16, 2023
Letterpress type-case and inkjet prints
Overall 27 9/16 × 35 7/16 × 2 9/16" (70 × 90 × 6.5 cm)
The Family of Man Fund
Object number
© 2024 Kelani Abass

Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].