G.A.S. Foundation is proud to welcome Tobi Onabolu, a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans research, film, literature, and recently, performance, as the newest resident at the G.A.S. Farm House in Ikise, Ijebu. Onabolu's artistic practice focuses on well-being and explores the concept of vibrations and frequencies through the lens of mental health, intersecting with spirituality. During his residency, he hopes to contextualize his well-being practice within his paternal ancestral home and explore notions of vibrations within Yoruba culture. With plans to experiment with performance ideas, sound recordings, filming, and writing, Tobi is excited to see how his thinking can expand and his practice can evolve in this residency.
Tobi Onabolu received the G.A.S. Fellowship following his application during the open call for West African Fellows in February 2022.
Dear Black Child, Film still, (2021)
What is the current focus of your creative practice?
I'm generally interested in pan-Africanism, and what is involved in reclaiming one's agency. I choose to explore this through the lens of mental health and well-being, intersected with spirituality. I've been exploring understandings of vibrations and frequencies, beginning with my own body, bringing into question what it means to tune your body and mind and access altered states of consciousness. For me, this is a gateway to equitable futures: that is to suggest that raising our frequencies individually (and collectively) can bring us closer to sharing space and resources more fairly. I have previously been capturing this in filmmaking that combines dance with poetry, and I am now bringing my own body into question more directly to explore these concepts.
Àlááfíà Ni, Film still (2021)
What drew you to apply for this residency, and how will it inform your wider practice?
The opportunity to do a residency in my paternal hometown is a huge deal for me. I have been to Ijebu Ode a few times, but I do not know it well, yet my family have been there for centuries. It is also the birthplace of Aina Onabolu, an ancestor who greatly inspires and influences me - an element of my practice is involved with researching, documenting and critiquing his legacy.
Although I am used to spending time in nature and out of cities to focus on my practice, this will be my first structured residency, so I am excited and open to seeing how my thinking can expand, especially as I dive further into existing practices (film, writing), and explore new mediums (performance).
Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?
I plan on exploring frequencies and vibrations, through the lens of Yoruba culture. Notably through research of the natural environment, my own body, and music.
Tobi Onabolu, Artist Portrait. Photo: Ifebusola Shotunde
ABOUT TOBI ONABOLU
Currently based in Grand Popo, Benin Republic, Tobi Onabolu is an artist and writer who works in an interdisciplinary and collaborative style across moving image, poetry, and performance. Interrogating the process of inner-child reconnection, Tobi uses his body and lived experience as a conceptual point of departure. His practice is concerned with expanding consciousness through space and across time, as an avenue for personal and collective healing. Playing with breathwork, movement, and dance, his work evokes the ethereal, considering humans beyond their physical form, as energetic and spiritual beings.
He holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS, with a thesis on his great uncle, Aina Onabolu, the founding father of Nigerian modernism. He is a Film London Artist Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) Fellow; a G.A.S. Foundation Fellow; and is an Artistic Advisory Board member for Culturescapes Biennale, Basel.
Exhibition and performance highlights include Videotage, Hong Kong; RCA, London; and the Royal Albert Hall, London.