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A Matter of Fact

A Matter of Fact (2016) is a series that investigates the specificities of wealth constructs. It portrays the invented history of a fictionalized Nigerian family and their great house, where their entire existence is defined by the opulence and privilege of the unquestioned spaces they occupy. Like the racial imaginary of blackness, wealth defines the surroundings and those who inhabit them—adjusting context, it limits and/or permits movement. Moreover, wealth, upon the striated plane of class, is indicative of histories invented for establishing power dynamics which are actively reaffirmed to keep the construct going. This story illustrates what wealth does to the viewer’s read when one sees it displayed so nonchalantly; where the wealth and the characters defined by such wealth are seen as fact without refute. To reiterate, the very nature of wealth, the ecology of the space it creates, is the subject. The constructs are layered all over the composition of each drawing. You are aware that what you are seeing is an invention, carefully staged to convince you of its feigned legitimacy; however, if you did not know it was all a fiction would any of that matter? The characters who inhabit the spaces of A Matter of Fact are comfortable in them: they have never known struggle, they have always known this world and have always belonged there, yet cannot exist in any other context. A Matter of Fact questions how we value the depictions of wealth and how we translate the markings of it into our culture. Wealth readjusts itself and morphs with the times. It encompasses a variety and in turn can be inhabited by a variety of people—who consistently choose to exclude for fear of losing such real estate. Thusly, it is intentional that you often do not see such variety in depictions of wealth in the Western art historical cannon. In sum, the construct of wealth is just as powerful, as elusive and as insidious as race: both constructs dismantle and affect perceived and felt realities and to uphold either requires the internalization of fictions that are sustained further by constant re-inventions.  

A Matter of Fact: Toyin Ojih Odutola opened on the 26th of October 2016 at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, on view through the 2nd of April 2017.