Ope Lori Exhibition | Eye Have the Power | Monday 14th November – Saturday 19th November 2011



‘Jen and Lucy’ by the artist (2011)

Monday 14th November, Private view and wine reception 6.30 – 9pm

Performance on opening night 6.30- 7.30pm

WAC gallery is delighted to present Eye Have The Power, an exhibition of video, performance and photographic works by Ope Lori a London based conceptual artist. From witty re-presentations of lesbian narratives, fairy tale cartoons, music videos and other images, Lori’s collection of works question stereotypes and representations of black and white female bodies in juxtaposition to one another.

As part of her PhD research here at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, Lori exhibits: ‘Who’s The Fairest of Them All?’ a five screen monitor piece exploring the power relations between black and white female bodies, and how gender roles are negotiated between inter-racial female couples. “How do we assign gender to race? Or ‘racialise’ gender? More specifically, what signs of visual difference in terms of skin colour, blackness or whiteness, do we associate masculinity or femininity, either in lesbian couples or non-lesbian relations in fictive and non-fictive scenarios?” Lori suggests that the ideological implications underlying such tasks are a main focus of this collection of work. “What pool of ‘knowledge’ learnt or ‘inherited’ do we draw upon to make such informed choices?”

She questions long-standing myths, stereotypes and representations of the black and white dynamic in images, and draws upon the 1913 American psychologist Margaret Otis’s scientific report: ‘A Perversion Not Commonly Noted’, on lesbianism in girls reform schools and institutions. The study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology US, stated that, in all-girl institutions “love-making between the white and colored girls” had taken place. The girls incorporated racial difference into courtship rituals: “One white girl…admitted that the colored girl she loved seemed the man, and thought it was so in the case of the others … The difference in color, in this case, takes the place of difference in sex” (Margaret Otis: 1913) Although, this report was written at the turn of the 20th century, the tropes of stereotypical meanings, fixed views of inter-racial female dynamics are re-visited by Lori, through critiquing the lens of lesbian films such as: ‘She Must Be Seeing Things’, ‘The L Word’ series, Hollywood movie ‘The Women’, all to list a few.

In the video ‘Deracination’ Lori’s didactic critique of current British black music videos, an industry where black female bodies are no longer needed is expressed. Lori questions structures of power, which black male artists promote in their songs, as they omit the use of the black women in favour of white female bodies.

“I wanted to highlight this and so I drew upon one of my own memories from childhood where at around the age of seven, I remembered after watching ‘Snow White’ for the first time, going into my bathroom and applying white talcum powder on my face and arms, only to be scolded by my Father when he saw me. The messages from children’s cartoons such as ‘Snow White’, show that whiteness or lightness was something I should aspire to if I wanted to look beautiful, but this came at a cost. It was a feminine ideal perpetuated by western ideology and a history of sexist- racist hierarchies”.
Shantal James writes:
‘Lori’s works seeks to unravel paradigms through the visual juxtapositions of the black female form against the white female form. The observer is almost brutally forced to see the conflicts in femininity/sexuality and blackness and the power struggle between gender roles and race. Her black female forms fight for centrality in the compositions, pedestalled, naked, gazed at, played with, negotiated… There is a encapsulating humanity and frankness in Lori’s pieces.’

For more information, request pictures, interviews, please contact: Ope Lori
Email: ope.lori@hotmail.com

Related People

  • Ope_lori_image_thumb

    Ope Lori

    Completed PhD

    Image Making and the Oppositional Gaze: Re- Visualizing Western Representations of Race and Gender in the Female Body 1980 – 2010

    This practice-led research takes an interdisciplinary approach to deconstructing and then reconstructing representations of race and gender in the female body, by critiquing stereotypical clichés of lesbian interracial couples in films and dramas between 1980 and 2010, through using my own ‘image-making’ performances for video and photography. These two major signs of difference are contextualized to consider how they interrelate within Western discourse, specifically in the United Kingdom and United States.
    Find out more about Ope Lori