Eva Maria Ocherbauer - Olorisa

FotoFactory.Lagos 2021

The OLORISA book project investigates the complex relations of art and spirituality in terms of cross-cultural contexts by revisiting Austrian/Nigerian artist Susanne Wenger’s revitalisation of the sacred grove of the Yoruba Orisa (deity) Osun, located in Osogbo, Western Nigeria. Throughout her career, Susanne Wenger sought a holistic creativity that used modern art to pursue spiritual transcendence. Her preservation and transformation of the Osun grove is the ultimate culmination of this search for transcendent spirituality. 

OLORISA is a contemporary search for similar spiritual synthesis, this time between the collaborative protocols Wenger and the Osogbo community used to rebuild and renovate the Osun grove, and those of four contemporary Nigerian and European artists – Eva Maria Ocherbauer, Rahima Gambo, Adeola Olagunju and Roberta Stein. The four artists use photography to explore Osun’s grove and document traces of Wenger’s historical work, as well as develop personal artistic approaches to contemporary photography inspired by its spiritual essence. Osun is associated with fertility, prosperity and healing. Their interrogation of the sacred grove’s unique symbiosis of Austrian and Yoruba aesthetics is in essence a spiritual pilgrimage of the sort Wenger herself made, a search for Osun’s benevolence, for creative fertility, and for spiritual healing in our tumultuous times. OLORISA thus heralds the return of the sacred in modernist narratives that have for too long effaced how the search for spiritual transcendence gave birth to modernism in its divergent expressions. 
Participating artists: Susanne Wenger, Eva Maria Ocherbauer, Rahima Gambo, Adeola Olagunju and Roberta Stein.

Extended essay by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie.