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Born in London, Tobi Onabolu is an artist and writer who lives nomadically with a base in Grand Popo, Benin Republic. He works in an interdisciplinary and collaborative style predominantly 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. This approach is centred in Dear Black Child (2021); Àlááfíà Ni (2021); and Finding Etherea (2021 - present).
His practice of existing beyond borders, employs pan-African, Afrofuturistic and Decolonial philosophies, ultimately probing a more intimate connection with the planet and wider cosmos.
He holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS, with a thesis on his great uncle, Chief Aina Onabolu, the founding father of Nigerian modernism. He is a Film London Artist Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) Fellow (2022-23); a G.A.S. Foundation Fellow (2023); and sits on the Artistic Advisory Board for Culturescapes Biennale, Basel (2022 - 23).
Amongst his collective exhibitions include Pave Your Path, Videotage, Hong Kong (2023); Burning Things, RCA, London (2023); Magmart Festival, CAM Museum, Napoli (2023); Time Tells All, Borna Soglo Gallery, Cotonou (2022); En Plein Air, Grand Bassam (2022), Better Shared Summer Show, London (2018).
In 2021 he installed and performed an iteration of his mobile concept, Finding Etherea, at the Tea Building Studio, London (2021); which has also been performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London (2021), Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam (2021), and Brixton Studio (2022).
Image credit: Ifebusola Shotunde