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Onyeka Igwe: A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver)

March 16–Aug 21, 2023

MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 presents the first solo museum exhibition of Onyeka Igwe (b. 1986, London). Through cinema and installation, Igwe’s multidisciplinary practice examines little-known historic events by collecting and combining documentary sources including government records, official reports, material artifacts, and personal memory, as well as gesture, voice, dance, and song. The exhibition features a series of three shorts—Her Name in My Mouth (2017), Sitting on a Man (2018), and Specialised Technique (2018)—presented as expanded cinema. The layered structure of Igwe’s films exposes the narrative multiplicities of contemporary life and contests Western ideology’s singular, progressive origin story. Her rhythmic editing style emphasizes the dissonance, reflection, and amplification between image and sound, set within a spatial installation. The principal subject of the film cycle is the 1929 Aba Women’s War, which Igwe first learned about from family lore. Led primarily by Igbo women, the conflict is considered one of the first anti-colonial uprisings in Nigeria and marks a violent episode in the defense of the British Empire. By conceptually recovering the repressed history of this collective act of resistance, Igwe finds, even in the tragedies of the past, new means for understanding the present. This exhibition highlights the artist’s ongoing interest in the relation between physical movement—that is, dance—and protest movements, especially those enacted by women.   

Onyeka Igwe: A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver) is organized by Kari Rittenbach, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.

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Onyeka Igwe. Sitting on a Man (video still). 2018. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). 3-channel HD Video. Duration: 6’40”. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe. Sitting on a Man (video still). 2018. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). 3-channel HD Video. Duration: 6’40”. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe. Sitting on a Man (video still). 2018. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). 3-channel HD Video. Duration: 6’40”. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe. Sitting on a Man (video still). 2018. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). 3-channel HD Video. Duration: 6’40”. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe. Specialised Technique (video still). 2018. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). HD Video. Duration: 6’35”. Courtesy the artist and BFI National Archive.

Onyeka Igwe. Her Name in My Mouth (video still). 2017. From Repertoire for Protest (No Dance, No Palaver). HD Video. Duration: 5’50”. Courtesy the artist.