To tell a story of migration is to tell a story of distortion - an unsettling series of events from exit to tenuous arrival. The act of migration requires certain practicality, according to writer and art critic Emmanuel Iduma. This practicality, an understanding of the imminent journey through displacement, grounds the migrant through both ends of the threshold. The violent transformation, from citizen to traveller to stranger often splits the individual into fragmentary parts across spatio-temporalities, between the familiarity of the past and the unknown possibilities of the future. In a bid to reconcile this fragmentation, in the quest for survival, the migrant as a hybrid, evolutionary body is created.
This resulting hybridity and the diverse modalities of the new and unfamiliar undergirds Dipo Doherty's solo exhibition Finding Home. Moving to the United States in 2018, the artist confronts the unfolding realities of being a relatively new immigrant in an increasingly multicultural environment in this body of work. Doherty's canvases, populated by stylised, geometric forms, shown either independently or in a meld of composite forms offer reflections on a developing state of transition and cultural assimilation. Here, bodies become disjointed, existing in surreal ecologies of their own, from geometric evocations of space to frenzied, organic landscapes.
In Finding Home, the artist examines his newfound status as a minority as well as his experiences with diasporic and African-American culture. From exploring sports culture (Midnight Dues, 2022) to referencing contemporary African-American art (Radiant Child, 2022), Doherty initiates a dialogue between two separate, yet interconnected cultures. This connection while spanning distinct experiences of Blackness, is rooted in the reading of the Black body as an inextricable link across the African and African-American experience. In his negotiation of identity, the artist contemplates ideas of home as temporal, shifting space, embodying diverse cultural realities and a relearning of cultural frameworks.
For Doherty, the migrant experience beyond being one of displacement and disconnection also serves as a site of immersion into multiculturalism, into multiple geographic, cultural and linguistic spaces. Here, home is created in response to and in spite of. A constant rediscovery of self against a steady mix of influences, journeying from transient displacement to acceptance. The migrant an unfolding hybrid. While the exhibition aims to confront and resolve feelings of dislocation, home here is not conceived as a settled thing. Finding Home invokes a sense of continuity, situating self and belonging in unraveling states of possibility.