This is my home this thin edge of barbwire.
But the skin of the earth is seamless. The sea cannot be fenced,
el mar does not stop at borders.
– Gloria Anzaldúa
“Fronteras” is the title of Okokume’s first solo exhibition at L21. The Spanish female artist, who has experienced a meteoric rise in Asia these last few years, reflects on the migration crisis and the difficulties that refugees encounter on their search for safety and a better life.
Okokume, influenced by the Lowbrow movement along with Japanese anime and manga, speaks through her well-known character Cosmic Girl about openness, tolerance and respect. Embracing diversity, focusing on that which unites us, and highlighting universal values such as kindness are some of the goals of “Fronteras”. Thanks to the vivid colors and sweet expressions of the characters, the paintings connect us with emotions such as compassion or empathy. After all, the connection with art is a connection with something bigger, with the humanity that we all share and that can lead us to something better.
Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldúa in her book “Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza”, explores the concept of border in depth: “Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants. Los atravesados live here: the squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer, the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, the half dead; in short, those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the “normal”. 10 In addition to depicting this concept and trying to resignify it, both Okokume and Anzaldúa reflect on how we can integrate the different identities that shape us instead of fragmenting them. In a way, the idea is to replace the dichotomy either/or with the binomial both/and. Allow the border and the spaces on both sides to be places of richness and integration, and above all, of individual and collective freedom.