Oríkì (Act I): Friction Ridge
January 26 – March 04 2023
Portrait of Nifemi by Erik Benjamins
For the occasion, Mart
a is pleased to host Marcus-Bello’s work offsite:
3050 S. La Cienega Boulevard
Culver City, California
90232 – 7333
Saturday, Noon – 5PM
Wednesday – Friday, by Appointment
View press coverage of Oríkì (Act I): Friction Ridge via Architectural Digest, Cultured, Design Miami, Elle Decor, Interior Design, KCRW, and Wallpaper*
Marta is honored to host Nifemi Marcus-Bello’s Oríkì (Act I): Friction Ridge, the first of several design Acts in an ongoing series typified by the exploration of identity, materiality, and craft production.
Act I of Oríkì—so named after the multi-generational practice of praise poetry and spoken affirmation amongst the Yoruba people and Yoruba-speakers of West Africa—presents an edition of sculptural benches rendered in polished bronze and exhibited amidst a soundscape featuring the voice of the artists mother, Folake, as she delivers Marcus-Bello’s personalised oríkì.
Eschewing the presentation of multiple work typologies in favor of the focus emphasized by the repetition of a single form, Marcus-Bello makes the physicality, texture, production process, and associated producer-craftsmen a vital part of these works’ outward legibility; indeed, the pieces are surfaced with the imprints of the designer and artisans involved in their fabrication.
Friction Ridge—the name of these functional sculptures as well as the title of this first Act—refers to the skin present along the lengths of the fingers and palmar surfaces of the hand: ridges and valleys used for the kinds of gripping and mechanical motions that Marta’s colleague, the ceramicist Alex Reed, refers to tenderly as ‘touch work’. Marcus-Bello cites as inspiration a tradition of the Surma people of Ethiopia, who paint themselves and one another using the repetitive imprints of their finger pads—an artistic expression as well as one of camaraderie.
Collaboratively fabricated between Lagos and Benin City, the pieces in Oríkì (Act I) are realised by way of the same lost-wax casting technique previously used to create royal portraiture in the former Benin Kingdom prior to the looting of many of those works by British occupants in the 19th Century. The recent repatriation of a number of these bronzes prompted Marcus-Bello to envision contemporary forms realised using historic techniques and regional expertise. The resulting bench works are multi-occupant seating sculptures composed not of straight lines but of gentle curves, gracefully proposing several sitters in reflective communion.
Nifemi Marcus-Bello (b. 1988) is a Lagos, Nigeria-based designer. Recognized for his community-oriented, ethnographic approach to design and its adjacencies, Marcus-Bello exploits material constraints in pursuit of new forms. His interest in manufacturing scales, production availability, and design anthropology have led to accolades from Hublot / LVMH (2022) and Wallpaper* (2021). In 2022, Marcus-Bello’s LM Stool was acquired by the Design Museum, London. Oríkì (Act I) is the designers first solo presentation in the US.
Download the Press Release.
Friction Ridge Bench
Friction Ridge Bench, 2023
71.6 × 17.7 × 24.4 in.
182.0 × 45.0 × 62.0 cm
Edition of 10 + 1 AP
a is a gallery that hosts works at the meeting points of art and design. Founded in Los Angeles in 2019, the gallery makes space for artists to experiment with the utility of design, and for designers to explore the occasional abandonment of function. Mart
a’s curatorial and publication programs take interest in both the process of an object’s creation as well the narrative of its creator(s). Mart
a embraces the intersection of disciplines, advocates for diversity in design, and promotes access to the arts.