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Mimi a black person with long black hair, and a blue and orange top, is sitting on an orange metal chair in front of white wall decorated with large, white LED mathematical braces.Mimi a black person with long black hair, and a blue and orange top, is sitting on an orange metal chair in front of white wall decorated with large, white LED mathematical braces.
With Mimi Onuoha
Date and place of birth
b. 1989, Parma, Italy
Current location
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
201617, Power Resident; 2020, Rapid Response Fellow

How do you characterize the media you work in?

I’m a visual artist who works across a variety of media, including code, installation, video, and performance. 

How does your practice engage with technology?

Historically I’ve used technology as an entry point for talking about larger structural issues as well as a means in itself. Technology is interwoven at all different points in my practice: for example, I often use software to collect data or to do the initial set-up or research for a work, even though the actual output may or may not involve technology as well.

What was your focus during your time at Eyebeam?

At Eyebeam I delved deeper into the subject of missing data. Around 2015, I became interested in patterns of absence in data collection: what is not being collected or what we don’t have access to, and who that affects and why. I began diving into the topic and staged a few versions of a piece called The Library of Missing Datasets, a physical installation of filing cabinets that highlights what information was missing and made those omissions visible. At Eyebeam I also worked on a series of works called Us, Aggregated which put photos from my family’s personal archives—photos that had never been online before—through Google’s reverse image search algorithm, to source images that were algorithmically similar.

Pictured is a mixed media installation of cables, cloth, hair, dust, spices and herbs braided and intermingled together, which flows behind a screen featuring a video, onto the floor in front and loops around. Gesture of modern technical systems mixed with values and artistry and practices from other cultures.

Mimi Ọnụọha, The Cloth In The Cable (2022), courtesy Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Was there a culminating project?

I had less of a culminating project and more of a series of engagements that resulted from conceptual inquiries and Eyebeam gave me the time and space to do these. Now I have evolved a whole practice that has to do with using absence as a way to understand dominant systems and structures more broadly.

How has dialogue or collaboration with Eyebeam artists and alumni factored into your work?

The place where I probably had the most collaboration with other residents was in discussing how to make an artistic practice sustainable, talking through, for example, how to negotiate fees, or think through where you might want to exhibit a work.

How do you think about the role of the artist in society?

I think that for the kind of artist I am, and the kind of artist I want to be, our role is to look at the base assumptions society is built upon and point out, challenge, or change those assumptions so  we can help make a world that’s open to more of us. Artists have the freedom and latitude to work in this way, and it is powerful work.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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