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Fridah Orupabo: The Nigerian-Norwegian Artist Redefining Political Collage Through Race, Gender and Power

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Fridah Orupabo is a Nigerian-Norwegian artist whose work centres on issues of race, gender, and power. Her artistic practice combines found images, collages, and digital manipulation. With these, she creates striking and thought-provoking works, challenging stereotypes and dominant narratives.

Additionally, she creates a “political collage” by incorporating images from various sources such as vintage pornography, medical textbooks, and African American history books. With this, she examines the intersections of race, gender, and power, questioning the construction and enforcement of these categories.

Moreover, her works often involve juxtaposing black bodies with images of white bodies, hence creating a tension that highlights the power dynamics at play. This is a beautiful way of showing how the two interpretations of the races affect our everyday lives. The use of text in her work,( mostly quotes from feminist and critical race theory literature ) contextualizes the images and challenges the viewer’s assumptions.

Leda and the Swan, 2021, collage with paper pins mounted on aluminium, 94 x 67 cm
Image courtesy of Nordenhake Gallery

One of the most striking aspects of Orupabo’s work is her use of digital manipulation. She distorts and transforms the images she works with, leaving the viewers to form their interpretations. She often elongates or distorts body parts, creating a sense of surrealism that adds to the power of her work. The effect is both unsettling and mesmerizing, drawing the viewer into a world that is at once familiar and otherworldly.

Orupabo draws deeply from her experiences as a black woman in Norway in creating her work. She discussed the challenges of navigating a predominantly white art world. Furthermore, she stressed the importance of creating space for marginalized voices. ‘Creating became a means to explore, deal with and process all the negative impact racism had on me, my surroundings and society. I lacked language – but through art, I found a way to speak’ said Fridah during her interview with Atoouba Magazine. She also spoke about how her work reflects her journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Untitled installation 2023, T’hings I saw at Night series’ collage with paper pins mounted on aluminium, 94 x 67 cm
Image courtesy of Modern art gallery

Orupabo has gained a significant following on social media, particularly on Instagram, and her art has been exhibited internationally. Her Instagram profile, Nemipeba, provides a glimpse into Orupabo’s artistic process and her ongoing exploration of race, gender, and power.

Fridah Orupabo’s work is a powerful and important contribution to the contemporary art world. Orupabo creates a unique visual language through her use of collage and digital manipulation. This challenges dominant narratives and offers a space for marginalized communities to exist unapologetically. As an artist, she is fearless and unapologetic. Her work is sure to continue inspiring and provoking audiences for years to come.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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