I haven't always known this but there has been a world floating in my psyche ever since I was born. Drifting in the expanse of my mind, there is a planet on which a single alien lived—that is, until I arrived.
As I grew conscious of this planet in my psyche, a portal ripped open in its core and I arrived in the world in my human form. The planet had skin for ground and hair for grass.
In line with depictions of aliens in pop culture featuring green skin or humanoid figures, the Alien in my work is illustrated as a reconfiguration of the human form.
I first drew this image in a notebook some time in 2016. After abandoning it for a few years, I rediscovered the drawing in 2019 and quickly became obsessed with creating several renditions of it.
My practice often implements double meanings of words and figurative phrases to create surreal, fantastical imagery. Since the world is "in my head", skin and hair forms its landscape. Additionally, cornrows are present in the world as the hairstyle becomes fields and forests. This is another nod to early Sci-Fi films in which UFOs would land and leave crop circles in fields of corn thus making cornrows a site for alien arrival.
The idea of skin as ground is influenced by the biblical story of Creation in which it is written that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." (Genesis 2:7)
There, I met the Alien. I sat and joined them in leisurely braiding the hair-filled landscape. We bonded for a while and soon decided to plant some children using strands of our own hair.
The first to emerge from the braided cocoons was Umbanda. They looked almost exactly like me but had a mutation which made prongs of skin grow from their scalp to form a shape resembling that of an Archbishop's hat.
Next to emerge was Aruaro. They were born with tribal marks which held a second set of eyes behind them already etched on their cheeks.
Next was Iroko who had tree branches emerging from their scalp.
Next was Irunoji who had braids pouring out of their eyes.
Next was Ijapa who had the shell of a tortoise above their skin.
Next was Arecale who had tusks in the shape of palm trees.
Next was Elfe who had purple-toned leaves for ears and a set of leaf wings to match.
The last to emerge from the cocoons was Agama, who had the tail of the lizards which scamper around Lagos.
As they all stood before the Alien and I, I realised that each of our eight hybrid children had mutations that incorporated objects that triggered memories of my childhood and hometown.
This follows Sherry Turkle's theory of evocative objects as "objects we think with." By embedding these objects within the hybridised form, it erodes the dichotomy of the nature versus nurture debate as objects of nurture become part of one's nature.
The creation of aliens and hybrids in this world came after my studies of cultural theory. By again invoking double meanings, aliens and hybrids embody both their cultural and biological connotations in this context.
Soon afterwards, more humans began to arrive in the world. My family members, friends, people I saw on the street. They slowly began to arrive through the portal I myself had come through. I soon learnt that as I encountered people in my waking life, perceptions of them lived on in my psyche and could therefore find their way to this world as cross-reality migrants.
I am now able to transport myself between this world and my waking life. I rematerialise in the world every time I daydream and fade away into its soil when I stop. I feel connected to this world, the people that occupy it, and the events that occur in it. This world is a microcosm for my selfhood: my instinct meeting external influence and combining to create significant traits. Therefore, I call this world Within.
I am Within.
Within is me.
Within in its entirety is an ongoing self-portrait that captures the elements of psychology, ancestry and culture theory that come together to form one's sense of self and/or a nation.
Within is an inscape, which is a form of representing one's psyche through an interor landscape. This method of self-portrayal is popular in surrealist and fantastical art.