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The Duality of Life and Death

Ehiko Odeh

November 19, 2021 - January 3, 2022

Essay by Adele Lukusa

Alekwu see

Alekwu dance

Alekwu come

Alekwu go

The duality of life and death represents the Janus headdress also known as ungulali (flute) an important instrument that accompanies the masquerade while it dances. Appearing in Benue state, specifically with idoma peoples to celebrate agricultural harvest, funerals and entertainment. This painting emphasizes the importance of duality, rituals and community. Duality of the masculine and feminine, deities, life and death; and the balance that comes forward with shifting perspectives.

As we experience challenges and duality of life we rely on our communities (alive or transitioned) to guide us through it. The birds at the top of the headdress symbolize life and fertility but also sacrifice and death. Two hard truths that exist at once. Using various mediums such as oil pastels, acrylic paint and conté this painting causes one to remember that we cannot escape life or “death” but we can celebrate them.

-Ehiko Odeh