Limerick, Ireland
Peju Alatise, Girl Interrupted, 2014, textiles, resin and acrylic paint, 85 x 270 cm, courtesy the artist

Peju Alatise

Nigeria, b. 1975

Peju Alatise’s recent work has been dedicated to the fate of young women and girls in Nigeria, highlighting the violence, risks and dangers of forced  marriages at a young age and exploitation through child labour. Although the kidnapping and enslavement of more than two hundred school girls in 2014 (most are still missing) by Boko Haram, the jihadist militant Islamic group working out of northeastern Nigeria, made the headlines, Alatise’s work tries to highlight a wider systemic reality of abuse towards the young female body that exists across different social sectors in Nigeria. Over the years, the artist’s unique figurative sculptural work and writing has touched on the vulnerabilities and everyday realities of disenfranchised poor girls who move to the city from the countryside, where they are sold as maids to wealthy families. This type of treatment has happened (and continues to occur) in many different countries worldwide – the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, mostly Catholic institutions in which ‘fallen women’ were confined and required to work, comes to mind. Presenting a figure as though struggling to emerge from the work’s sculptural backdrop, Girl Interrupted (2014) embodies the obstructed path of female youth and liberation. The young female figures appear to heroically emerge from a world that dehumanizes them, a world that has interrupted their childhood and has halted their social mobility.

Peju Alatise is a skilled poet and published author, using a variety of media in her work. She holds a degree in architecture. Alatise’s practice addresses a number of social, political, and gender issues. She has had several solo exhibitions and her works are in private and institutional collections around the world. In 2017 she represented Nigeria at the 57th Venice Biennale.

(Text: 38th EVA International catalogue)


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