Founded in 2008, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a recognised contemporary art gallery both within South Africa and internationally. Part question, part purpose and part statement, their name anticipates the gallery’s pro- gram: a host of ambitious projects that promote curiosity and thought. With a strong focus on Africa and the African diaspora, the gallery represents influential artists who engage with global and local contemporary art and socio-political contexts. The gallery is dedicated to showing resolute solo projects and multi-disciplinary installations, with an interest in creating an environment that allows artists the freedom to create significant exhibitions. WHATIFTHEWORLD is pleased to present at 1-54 Marrakech 2020 with Lakin Ogunbanwo and Thania Peterson.

Lakin Ogunbanwo (Biography)

Working at the confluence of fashion photography and classical portraiture, young Nigerian photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo creates enigmatic portraits with an erotic and subversive undertone. His subjects exist defiantly in the frame often masked by shadow, drapery and foliage. His use of vibrant flat colour and bold compositions form a more minimalist homage to the African studio photography popular in the 1960s and 70s.

Central to Ogunbanwo’s artistic investigation, is his desire to document the culture of Nigeria’s capital, Lagos; expand the contemporary African visual archive; and portray self-represented African narratives. He docu- ments the complexity of his culture using veiled portraiture and fashion as a cultural signifier, and in doing so, counteracts the West’s monolithic gaze on Africa.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1987, Ogunbanwo’s work has featured in the The New Yorker, New York Times, Vogue Italia, ID online, British GQ and Riposte Magazine, amongst others. His solo exhibitions include e wá wo mi (2019), We Must Not Be Looking (2017) and Are We Good Enough (2015) at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. Recently, he has also shown a selection of his works at the Niki Cryan Gallery in Lagos. He has attended the MMCA Residency programmed by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. He was also commissioned to show in the window displays of Galeries Lafayette, Paris in the Africa Now exhibition (2017). His work forms part of the public collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia and the Wedge Collection in Toronto, Canada.

Thania Peterson (Biography)

Thania Petersen is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses photography, performance and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa.Petersen’s reference points sit largely in Islam and in creating awareness about its religious, cultural and traditional practices. She attempts to unpack contemporary trends of Islamophobia through her analysis of the continuing impact of colonialism, European and American imperialism, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies.

Threads in her work include the history of colonialist imperialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the social and cultural impact of westernised consumer culture. Her work is also informed by her Cape Malay herxitage, and the practice of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies.

Petersen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. In 2018, Petersen held her solo exhibition IQRA at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. She has hosted additional solo exhibitions in 2016 at the AVA, Cape Town and in 2017 at the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions both locally and abroad, including Radical Love, at the Ford Foundation, New York (2019) and Present Passing: South by Southeast, at the Osage Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2019). Petersen was awarded the Thami Mnyele Residency in Amsterdam in 2019.

Petersen is represented in various public and private collections including The Durban Art Gallery, The IZIKO South African National Gallery, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), The Kilbourn Collection, The Jochen Zeitz Collection, and The Yeojoo City Collection, South Korea.