The Treatment, 2015—17

The Treatment (2015—2017) is a single work comprised of 43, small, pencil and ink drawings—initially conceived for a group exhibition titled Young, Gifted and Black  (Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 2015), which posited to bridge political and historical parallels between South Africa and the United States regarding race, and to remark on the Black Lives Matter movement. Moving away from narratives of victimhood, I used the exhibition title and theme as a guide, depicting well-known, white men in their youth—all rendered in black ballpoint pen—to emphasize how lack of individuality and dehumanization occurs when one is indistinguishable from the sameness of a group. There is no supportive text or enhancing narrative added, each drawing is titled in the sequence it was created: "The Treatment 1, 2, 3, 4...." From there the series expanded, where the "treatment" mirrors how American society at large systemically regards otherness. Awash in one color, these figures are stripped of the power construct and exclusivity whiteness and masculinity affords, and are at the mercy of shifting perceptions. In sum, they become other, included at the margins.

 

— Toyin Ojih Odutola