Part of Isabel Okoro’s larger project of world-building and imagining utopias, negotiating space with memories of fluid landscapes materializes what an emblem might look like for her visual universe, Eternity. The composition combines two photographs taken by the artist, the primary depicting two young men on the beach, backlit by a setting sun that casts a heavy shadow. Dusk obscures any of their identifying features. The boys are framed by and doubled within Okoro’s emblem — which takes the form of a rose — fragmenting the composition, as if Eternity might be a place where one can hold space and break free.
Okoro is interested in how photography and film can be used to tell stories that people need to see to conceptualize life outside of our individual lived experiences. A self-proclaimed dreamer, the artist’s work is a combination of thoughts that acknowledge the past, confront the present, and imagine a future. To actualize these sentiments, Okoro coined the term “normatopia” as a way to describe a space that considers the tensions between a harsh reality and a utopia.
This work has been commissioned for MOCA’s Lightbox as part of the exhibition, Dancing in the Light. This show of portraiture drawn entirely from The Wedge Collection is situated on the museum’s third floor and features the work of over forty artists made between the years 1977 and 2021. Dancing in the Light is part two of The City is a Collection series, which brings some of Toronto’s most engaging private collections to the public.
About the Artist
Isabel Okoro is a Nigerian visual artist whose work largely focuses on the Black youth experience and explores the interactions between the motherland and the diaspora as she visualizes an imagined world. Recent solo and duo exhibitions include Matters of the Heart at Ninth Editions, Toronto (2023), magic dreams at The Gallery at Mason Studio, Toronto (2022), and Is Love a Synonym for Abolition? at Gallery 44, Toronto (2021). Okoro was born in Lagos, Nigeria and is currently based in Toronto.