Mimi Ọnụọha

Mimi Ọnụọha

40% of Food in the US is Wasted (How the Hell is That Progress, Man?)

January 25, 2024 – May 19, 2024

Mimi Ọnụọha’s 40% of Food in the US is Wasted (How the Hell is That Progress, Man?) is an interactive video composed of archival video clips from the 1950s–1980s, drawn from the Prelinger Archives and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Advertising the technological optimism of big agriculture, the sampled footage and audio betray the myth of agricultural systems geared towards ever-increasing production and yield rather than equitable distribution. Retrospectively, the videos function as a reality check to the solutions they once proclaimed. The artwork’s title emphasizes the reality of food waste, referencing the USDA’s own damning estimate that 30–40% of food in the US is wasted. The presentation of the video clips in a repetitive grid formation advanced by continuous clicking amplifies the redundancies built into the process of automation. Jules Faife’s accompanying music drives the narrative and pulls the viewer into it, but Ọnụọha also works against the score and archival audio, breaking up their momentum by inserting the question “How the Hell is That Progress, Man?” Documenting the demographics of the people working in the fields, at the conveyor belts, and in roles of oversight, the footage openly displays systemic conditions of production and labor. 40% of Food in the US is Wasted (How the Hell is That Progress, Man?) continues Ọnụọha’s practice of interrogating and exposing the internal logics of technology-driven progress.

About Black Code

Black Code highlights Black contemporary artists making use of emergent technologies in their practice. The three artists on view complicate the assumed neutrality of digital technologies, reimagining machines into frameworks that function to assert and extend black subjectivity. The title of the exhibition is drawn from the 2017 special issue of The Black Scholar where cultural theorists, Mark Anthony Neal and Jessica Marie Johnson describe Black Code Studies as queer, femme, fugitive, and radical; as a praxis and methodology that refuses the notion that black people are not engaged with technology, modernity, or the future. In offering an exploration of Black creative engagement with technology, this exhibition demonstrates the potentiality of new media to construct an expansive vision of Blackness; one that resists the rigidity of hegemonic representations, and instead, leans into the formal capacity of abstraction, multiplicity and rupture to visualize Black contemporary life.


Mimi Ọnụọha

Nigerian-American artist Mimi Ọnụọha’s work questions and exposes the contradictory logics of technological progress. Through print, code, data, video, installation, and archival media, Ọnụọha offers new orientations for making sense of the seeming absences that define systems of labor, ecology and relations.

Ọnụọha’s recent solo exhibitions include bitforms gallery (USA) and Forest City Gallery (Canada). Her work has been featured at the Whitney Museum of Art (USA), the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (AUS), Mao Jihong Arts Foundation (China), La Gaitê Lyrique (France), Transmediale Festival (Germany), The Photographers Gallery (UK), and NEON (Greece) among others. Her public art engagements have been supported by Akademie der Kunst (Germany), the Royal College of Art (UK), the Rockefeller Foundation (USA), and Princeton University (USA).

Ọnụọha is a Creative Capital and Fulbright-National Geographic grantee. She is also the Co-Founder of A People’s Guide To Tech, an artist-led organization that makes educational guides and workshops about emerging technology.


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