Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American artist creating work about a world made to fit the form of data. By foregrounding absence and removal, her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation, and video to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities’ different relationships to systems that are digital, cultural, historical, and ecological. Onuoha has been in residence at places like Studio XX in Canada, Data & Society Research Institute, the Royal College of Art in the UK, and Eyebeam Center for Arts & Technology. She has spoken and exhibited internationally at venues like La Gaitê Lyrique in France, FIBER Festival in the Netherlands, Mao Jihong Arts Foundation in China, and Le Centre Pompidou in France. Her work includes In Absentia, a series of prints that borrow language from research conducted by Black sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois in the 19th-century on black rural life, and A People’s Guide To AI, a comprehensive beginner’s guide to understanding AI and other data-driven systems. Onuoha lives and works in Brooklyn.
Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American artist creating work foregrounding absence and removal, to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities’ different relationships to digital, cultural, historical, and ecological systems.Artist Bio
In 2018, Sugar Land county’s school district unearthed the remains of 95 Black people who died through the violent 19th-century practice of convict leasing. This discovery of the “Sugar Land 95” caused unease throughout the city—how could a pleasant and innocuous town sit atop such a brutal past? In Ground Truth, Mimi Onuoha builds a machine-learning model that looks for convict-leasing-era mass burial graves in other counties in the US. The model will be mathematically sound, and its results will be communicated through printed and digital maps, however, the project carries countless impossibilities: of actually digging for remains, and also of scientific methodology to attend to grief, pain, and accountability. Ground Truth treats undiscovered graves as entrance points for disentangling the US’s relationship to land, Blackness, and its own history. Through statistical speculative research, the eventual installation foregrounds the unknowability of sites laced with legacies of violence, agency, and power.