Shady Optics: Kayode Ojo

by Alex Bennett

That which shines manifests absence in the very moment it beckons attraction—which is to say, shine bears a subtext of duplicity, its essence distraction. Its values, however, are adamantine: celerity, surface, artifice, effect, projection. Steel, glass, Perspex, crystal, rhinestone: Kayode Ojo’s sculptures involve such materials that mobilize or depend on visual attention. In assembly, however, these instruments, garments, and ornaments, extricated from their original optical economy, focus a clinical dissection of perception and seduction.

Aqueous, metallic, lustrous, and glossed, Ojo’s materials attend to surface and superfluity. The seductive is always a diversion from something else, and it is this intrinsic lack that enables the process of seduction to be entirely mercurial. The hardness of shine: bedazzlement, blinding, blaze. Ojo returns to the viewer this lack that would otherwise be veiled, using throwaway excess against itself. Diamanté waterfall necklaces, faux-fur coats, sheeny body-cons, faux modernist furniture, polished ornaments, onanistic devices—Ojo’s interest in such inexpensive objects concerns the values they impress upon subject formation as well as tracing the absorptive tactics of fetishization, applying a kind of counter-radiance as a stratagem to distort identitarian imagery.


In its glitzy crush, its louche and velveteen tenebrosity, its glacial and glittering display, the work interrogates the prismatic complex of optics: its technical particulars in photography, its bewitching modality in seduction, its bitter visibility and standardization in identity politics, and its metaphoric influence over political analysis.