Virginia Woolf's fantastical novella, Orlando (1928), holds a strong impression in my mind—from first read through every re-reading. Any opportunity to incorporate and investigate the story's core themes and ideas has been a constant in my work—amongst other investigations—whether evident or not. With the opportunity to show at the latest iteration of the Manifesta biennial, The Planetary Garden (hosted in Palermo, Italy), I wanted to specifically dedicate a drawing to the spirit of Orlando: their potentiality and capability, their right to freedom and to an engaging and fulfilling life.
Much of the dialogue around Manifesta 12 addresses migration, with the flow of stories that come from various locales, creating fascinating and diverse amalgams and aggregates, cross-sections and encounters, which I believe reshape and reinvigorate communities and nations, as a whole, for the better. I aimed to include a queer individual's story to the collective, in the hopes of expanding upon the dialogue of our particular, globalized zeitgeist, and to illustrate how Orlando's story—like and also unlike so many others—is not only valid and beautiful, but integral.
— Toyin Ojih Odutola