Ebun Sodipo: Nasty Girl [The Sharpest Girl in Town] (2023)

Developed during her residency at V.O Curations, Nasty Girl (The Sharpest Girl in Town) was a solo exhibition by Ebun Sodipo, curated by Languid Hands. Using visual assemblage as a technique to delve into the artist's own formation of personal narrative, self-possession and the aestheticization of compositional materials, Sodipo extends her long term fascination with images that pull, extend, transform and recontextualise notions of femininity, desire, and danger.

In Nasty Girl, which contains a newly commissioned video work and a series of collages across the gallery and project space, the artist draws upon her extensive and ongoing visual archive of still and moving images appropriated from the internet. These works come together as tableau’s referencing myriad forms of black womanhood, the dangerous magic of black trans-femininity, the complicated nature of sexuality, gender euphoria, witchcraft, voice, gaze, tactility, surgery, adornment & beauty. Desire is an ongoing thread in this body of work, explored through the sexual in gestures of touch, heat, moisture and the intimacy of looking, but also through desires for the body, specific forms of bodily alteration, or a relationship to the body and desire that is wholly personal. The body itself can be thought of as an assemblage of sorts; affected and affecting, drawing from and in relation to the external world.

Sodipo has been fascinated by the shimmer of water for as long as she can remember, incorporating textures and materials that glimmer, shine, and otherwise reflect the surface of water into her work as an allegory for the aesthetic expressions of pleasure and affect. Nasty Girl extends Sodipo’s experimental collection of works across live performance and writing, my body reminds us of water (2020–), which explores notions of embodied and ancestral knowledge in relation to black transness and the visual phenomenon of water moving, shifting and rippling light. This concern with shimmer, gloss, shine and the reflection of water is further explored in Nasty Girl through her use of materials; resin, mylar, PVC and mirror in moving and still image form. Tina Campt’s notion of still-moving-images acted as inspiration for these works, defined as “images that hover between still and moving images; animated still images, slowed or stilled images in motion or visual renderings that blur the distinctions between these multiple genres; images that require the labour of feeling with or through them”. Similarly, Sodipo hopes to engage the viewer to feel, to interpret and to be moved by her playful approach to archive, image, texture and light, constructing a narrative all their own.

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Ebun Sodipo makes work for those who will come after: the Black trans people of the future. Her interdisciplinary practice narrates her construction of a Black trans-feminine self after slavery and colonialism. Through a process of fragmentation, collage, and fabulation, she devises softer, other-wise ways of imagining and speaking about the body, desire, archives, and the past.

Her work has been shown, read, watched, performed at Frieze London, Cubitt, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, Bernie Grants Arts Centre, Narrative Projects, Raven Row, The Block Museum of Art, South London Gallery, Arcadia Missa’s How To Sleep Faster, Auto Italia, ICA, Tate Britain, Embassy Gallery, Wasafiri, CCA Annex, Camden Arts Centre. She has undertaken residencies at Gasworks, Porthmeor Studios, Rhubaba Gallery, and V.O. Curations.

‘Nasty Girl (The Sharpest Girl in Town)' was supported by Arts Council England. Images courtesy of V.O. Curations.
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