Mikael Chukwuma Ikechi Owunna

Mikael is a Nigerian-Swedish artist and photographer who was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and centers his work around questions of identity, being and place. He is a two-time Fulbright scholar whose projects: I am Atayal!, Limit(less) and Infinite Essence - have collectively exhibited in Asia, Europe and North America and been featured in media ranging from The New York Times, PBS, NPR, Al-Jazeera Plus, Buzzfeed and Teen Vogue to the official outlet of Taiwan's Ministry of Culture. He has spoken about his work at Harvard Law School and on Swedish Public Radio, and speaks English (fluent), French (advanced) and basic Mandarin Chinese. His work imagines new universes and realities for marginalized communities around the globe.

My Artistic Journey:

As a child of the 90s, I grew up watching anime worlds that bend reality and magic into gorgeous visual fantasies. Magic became my heartbeat; I ached to create realms of my own that defied reality, that defied our earthly limits.

As I grew older, I would come to realize that identity would demarcate many aspects of my own limits. I wasn’t right for my very white world. I saw the brutal limits facing people all over the world and wanted to break them.

Our lived realities are crafted less by anything real than carefully crafted social and cultural illusions of who we all are. At 24, I learned most anime characters were not white, but rather Japanese. I knew the genre was rooted in Japan, but characters like Sailor Moon - with her iconic long blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin - were defaulted to white in my eyes, due to my lived reality in America. Many Japanese people, on the other hand, would find it shocking to hear that numbers of foreigners saw Sailor Moon and other anime character as anything other than Japanese.

This led me to see just how limited and constructed “reality” is and the incredibly mitigated ways that we all have of seeing the world. Stuffed in our own boxes of “possible” shaped by dominant society, what would happen if we broke all of these boxes down and reconstructed a new, emancipatory reality for us all?

I seek to break these bonds and shatter these limits of what we believe is possible, in particular for marginalized communities around the world. And since I don’t have magic, I build these new worlds for us everyday with my photography.

Mikael

Curriculum Vitae

Download Mikael Owunna's C.V.

Contact

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