A Nightmare's Daydreams: A visual art project by Temitayo Ogunbiyi

Tayo Ogunbiyi at a studio session



Lagos—Fifteen times in one day? Forced to marry according to the laws of Islam when she is Christian?  In April of this year, visual artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi began archiving such news of the nearly 300 girls abducted from Chibok, Nigeria.  Following the kidnapping of 16 girls in Yobe, another town in North Nigeria, the abductions in Chibok gripped Nigeria and the international community, but only for a moment.  Beginning with and in this moment, Ogunbiyi began asking questions and wondered how to create a relevant response, steer as clear as possible from opportunism, and respect the tone and complexity of the circumstance—and all despite any feasible outcome of these unfortunate events. 
 In the process of conceiving the project, she has been asked, “What if they find the girls?” That so many of them went missing and have been gone for so long will forever remain worthy of consideration.  Several have said, “Isn’t the missing girls thing a bit overdone?” How does such a catastrophic event become so finite?  How do media headlines and topics trending on social media categorically restrict the attention spans of masses?
 These questions and interactions inform her current project, which comprises visual art exhibitions and a scholarship fund, 300girls.  Through these efforts, Ogunbiyi aims to use these tragic events of late to contemplate humanness in contemporary times, encourage the education of Nigerian girls, and thereby counter the actions of those who are working towards the contrary. 
The exhibited works begin with select text and image-based content, which the artist archived through mid-May.  She then begins to use this content to construct and dream futures for these girls based on information in the public domain; their possessions in photographs taken by Glenna Gordon; the lives of revered women who have spoken out and/or passed away in the time that has transpired since the girls were abducted; and through the words uttered by parents who still have dreams for these missing girls.  Further, the project aims to impact Nigerian girls unborn and their daughters.
The first exhibition opened in Lagos, Nigeria on Saturday, August 2, in Kongi’s Harvest Gallery, Freedom Park, Onikan.  
For additional information, please visit www.300girls.com.