ANCESTRAL FUTURES PRESENTS
SOMA – T.0.T.K.O II
LISTENING EXPERIENCE & EXHIBITION CURATED BY KANAIZA
ALPHONSE MENDY’S PRIVATE COLLECTION
Alphonse Mendy has amassed an impressive collection of artefacts from various cultures in Africa. For TOTKO II Alphonse has loaned sculptures, masks, headdresses, and objects from West, Central and Southern Africa. The Collection is not only impressive because of the scope but also due to the identity of the collector. Based in the UK, previously owning a African Antiques shop in North London, he has personal ties to Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Although some pieces were purchased on the continent, for the most part, Mendy reclaims the agency of the artworks and presents a positive view of who a Traditional African art collector is and can be.
Mendy is passionate about sharing African art and culture in spaces that will be seen by those in the Diaspora, honouring the people and traditions of the past and present. As a result, this collection invites the viewer to digest, learn, pay homage to and connect with their roots.
This mask comes from the Bamileke people of Cameroon. Among the Bamileke the elephant, leopard and buffalo are sacred animals. Buffalo are symbols of immense power, wit, and strength. The tradition of creating these masks can be traced back to the 18th century and beyond. The grasslands of Cameroon was once a thriving trading port, which developed a growing population of skilled artisans commissioned to create great works of art and architecture. Buffalos would be carved for the king for fortune and were also hung at the entrance to a household.
A selection of masks from the Yaoure/Yohoure/Yaure people who live in Côte d’Ivoire. The masks are human faces with anthropomorphic features. They represent Yu spirits which are spirits embodied with powers that can cause chaos or mischief. Yu masks are extremely sacred and therefore have to be handled with respect. Only men can wear Yu masks, they perform in masquerades wearing the masks when there is balance or chaos in society caused by death or political upheaval. They are worn to guide spirits to their death and to purify the village. It is said that women should stay away from these masks to protect their fertility.
The kingdom of Kuba is in the Democratic republic of Congo. Kuba society included a wealth of skilled artisans from weavers to sculptors. These vessels were an ostentatious show of wealth which served both as a practical means through consumption and as intricate objects. The cups are in the shape of a head, often the head of a chief or royalty. By turning everyday objects into beautifully carved pieces we can see that among African societies the consumption and appreciation of art was and has been the norm.
The term Ibi means born and and eji means two, IBEJI is the Yoruba term given to twins. Ibeji figures are Ere Ibeji meaning sacred twins, they are carved in sets of two and gifted to twins at birth. Ibeji are powerful, in Yoruba cosmology they are protected by Sango the Orisha of thunder. Twins are said to have the ability to bless their families abundantly or bring misfortune if they are not venerated. Ibeji figures are cared for alongside the babies to prevent vengeful spirits or infertility for the mother particularly if one twin has died. The power of the Ibeji is said to be so great that If both twins pass away the figures will be made to honour the twins and protect their family.
Sowo-wui or Bundu masks originate among the secret society of Mende women in Sierra Leone. These masks are distinctive, defined by their dark hue and elaborate hairstyles, they reflect the power and beauty of Mende women. Crafted by Men these masks were only worn by women primarily during female initiation rights and at funeral ceremonies. The mask tradition was widely practised until the 20th century. The mask is part of a larger costume where the wearer becomes the Sowo. The Sowo is the water spirit of the Mende who guides them on their life journey, teaching them their ways of fertility and womanhood. As Mende society is Patriarchal this tradition represent a space where women dominate and share their secrets.
This headdress was made by the Bamana (aka Bambara) the majority of Bamana people reside in Mali and the word Bamana means he/she who refuses to be dominated. Traditionally for the Bambara Spirituality and nature are intertwined and there is no distinction between Bambara ontology and customs. This headdress is carved to represent the image of an agricultural half god half human called Ci Wara. The Ci Wara is usually represented by a horned animal as it represents the relationship between the Bamana and the Earth.it is not uncommon amongst African cultures for people to have a special relationship with animals either as a totem, spirit or ancestor.
This is a replica of the infamous ‘Benin Bronzes’, an ingenious body of craftsmanship. The Kingdom of Benin is where the Edo people in Southern Nigeria reside. They were made from Brass and tell a story of trade and political history in the Kingdom. This figure may represent Oba Ozuola (1483-1504) a powerful ruler known for his victories in battle.
In 1897, the British looted the Oba’s palace burning what was left behind, bringing many to the British Museum. Today the Benin Bronzes are scattered across world museums throughout Europe. By displaying them here we hope to breakdown some of the barriers around access and repatriation.
Fertility figures can be found from Ghana to Angola and there are various ritual practices throughout the continent that relate to and celebrate female fertility. This statue is from the Yoruba people in southern Nigeria. The purpose of this is linked to the divine aspects of Yoruba cosmology, for offerings and rites or to place Kola nuts inside. The detail on the hair and the body scarification reflect the intricacy of the carver and beauty of Yoruba women.
Shannon Bono (b. 1995 London) is a multimedia-driven artist, cultural writer, and MA Art & Science graduate from Central Saint Martins University 2019 living and working in London. Shannon also has a bachelors in Biochemistry and is currently completing a Pg Cert in Academic practice art, design and communication at UAL. Shannon draws on her Congolese and Sierra Leonean heritage as well as her position as a Black British womxn in the Diaspora to influence her work. Bono uses the term Afrofemcentrism to describe her work, this term describes a consciousness that asserts race, sex and art as a way of living, where black womxn are the subject depicted by a black womxn.
Bundu Devil and Bundu Devil
Dimensions 50 x 40 and cast
Bono’s pieces depict the Mende Sowo-Ui/Bundu Devil on both canvas and in the form of a mask. The inspiration behind these pieces arose after a trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. After seeing the Sowo-Ui on display, Bono explored her own roots and family in Sierra Leone to create her interpretations in a contemporary context in the position of the Diaspora. The Bundu Devil Mask is a cast replica of the artists face, here Bono situates herself within this female tradition transformed as the water spirit Sowo Ui. The Painting is comprised of oil and acrylic on canvas, the still life represents the tradition of the Sowo-Ui living on today. The incorporation of the Cowrie shells and the eye create questions about power and belonging in a historical and current context.
Alicia Pearl Cato
Alicia-Pearl Cato (b.1998) is a Painter who graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts with a BA (Hons) Fine Art in 2019. Living and working in London, her mediums are canvas and textiles, she is currently working and accepting commissions.. Cato draws inspiration from her African Caribbean roots being Zimbabwean and Antiguan as well as her experience of being Black British Londoner. Her experiences of racism in the British education system have also been a catalyst in her work that has enabled her to question and portray her identity. Her work is heavily influenced by music, which is why she has submitted two artworks from the Red Collection, a combination of oil painting and textile of various artists. Cato’s works are an ode to the dynamic and wonderful art form that is African-American music which has inspired people all over the world. B
Lauryn Hill and Noname
Dimensions 3.5 x 18.5 and 13.5 x 18.5
By using Lauryn Hill and Noname as muses’s, Cato addresses racism, black excellence, feminism, gender, and stereotypes. The addition of textiles is to create questions about the portrayl of artists both in the media and in the minds of people in the Diaspora.
DYLEMA acronym: Do You. Let Every Man Adapt.
Dylema is a Nigerian born British multidisciplinary artist acclaimed for their poetry, writing, art and performance on over 500 stages in and around London and Europe. With a vocal ability considered to be raw and effective in its conduct, their theatre background alongside marginalised experiences informs their performance and art.
“Dylema… is a shapeshifter, able to move between numerous personas and performance genres with barely a flicker.” – Miriam Gillinson, Guardian
In 2019, Dylema performed ‘Four Women’ – a play about their personal experience with migrating from Nigeria to England, depicted through four female characters that Dylema plays. The play is told in both Igbo and English as they play their mother, younger self, adult self and present self. It was shown for 3 nights at the Battersea Arts Centre as part of the Homegrown Festival. Dylema has been nominated twice for an EEA Award for spoken word poetry, and has also won best poet at the London-based slam competition Rum Punch in 
Following a three month residency at Pizza Express Jazz Club with the Dylema Collective, Dylema was invited to tour Germany providing a sold out concert in the heart of Berlin at The Reed (at Sessions Berlin) they where then invited to participate in Germany’s WWII conference prior to the COVID 19 effects.
During a 6 month residency at Bouverie Mews, Dylema created 6 large-sized paintings, one of which Chloe Bailey, Immortalised was shortlisted for the Ashurst Art Prize 2020.
1 – City of God
2 – Women Should Never Behave (View upon request)
3- Segun The Water Boy