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