To celebrate the launch of Provenance by acclaimed author Ayòbámi Adébáyò at the National Centre for Writing in May 2021, the carved male twin figure (ere ibeji) in the Sainsbury Centre collection is on display in the East End gallery.
In Yorùbá society, twins are regarded as powerful spiritual beings. The ibeji figure in the Sainsbury Centre collection was made in Abeokuta, Nigeria in the 19th century to mark the death of an infant twin. If cared for correctly, the figure could appease the deceased child’s spirit and ensure their family’s future prosperity.
UEA alumna Ayòbámi Adébáyò first encountered this ibeji figure on display in a seminar room at the Sainsbury Centre in 2014. The impact of this experience inspired her to reimagine the journeys that these kinds of sacred figures have made, in a new work for the Future and Form project at UEA.
Provenance is an immersive installation that Adébáyò has created with digital production partner Mutiny. This vivid and emotional installation weaves together history, fiction and contemporary concerns in the 120-year journey of an imagined ibeji figure, from its creation in Benin City in 1895 to its display in a British museum.
– Experience Provenance live at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich from 21-30 May.
– Watch Provenance online on the Future and Form website from 25 May.
– Discover the full Future and Form programme, which explores the interface between contemporary literature and creative technology.
– Find out more about the ibeji figure in the Sainsbury Centre collection and what is currently known about its provenance in our online catalogue.
“In Yorùbá society, twins are regarded as powerful spiritual beings.”