Azikiwe Mohammed. Nadir, 2016, C-print from the series From Here on Out. All images courtesy of the artist.
Multimedia artist and photographer Azikiwe Mohammed makes work that straddles the line between playful exuberance and serious social commentary—in fact, it holds that line extremely well. Both a collector and maker of objects, he dutifully investigates, grapples with, and redefines notions of Blackness and commodity fetishism in ways at once smart, funny, and fervently political. Coming off the success of his ongoing project Jimmy’s Thrift: A New Davonhaime Thrift Store (2016–present)—a thrift shop in a fictional town based on an amalgamation of the most densely populated black cities in America—Mohammed continues to make work that focuses on black excellence as a way to adumbrate the social ills of racist America, without losing sight of our present reality.
As I look at Mohammed’s recent body of work, I can’t help but think of Kerry James Marshall’s The Lost Boys (1993), a painting that depicts two young black boys—one playing with a water gun, the other seated in a toy car of the type found outside a supermarket. This painting also serves as a memorial to the lost youth or innocence of these boys, perhaps best indicated by the votive candle at the bottom of the image. Mohammed’s gold and silver nameplates commemorate those black men and women who were killed by police in 2016, and his penchant for using votive candles in his photographs takes aim at this loss of innocence; however, here perhaps he is looking at objecthood, and even that of a photograph, as a means to tell stories of resistance and hope.
— Terence Trouillot
Unarmed 2016, 2017, gold and silver nameplates on jewelry board.
Potential Futures #4, 2016, C-print.
Potential Futures #7, 2016, C-print.
Josie from the Happy Hocker, 2016, C-print from the series From Here on Out.
Tamara, 2016, C-print from the series From Here on Out.
Aisha, 2016, C-print from the series From Here on Out.
Tierra’s House, 2016, C-print from the series From Here on Out.
Cecil Robinson, 2017, C-print from the series From Here on Out.
1986–2011, 1919–2015, 1994–2005, 2017, neon sign.
Mohammed’s forthcoming solo exhibition, Potential Futures / Black Receipts, curated by Lauren Wolchik, opens January 28, 2017 at IDIO Gallery, Brooklyn.