- Susan Kart
Nigerian multimedia artist, active in the USA. Tuggar studied in London before receiving her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. She completed her MFA at Yale University. Tuggar’s work has been seen as central to the ‘Afro-Futurist’ style and theoretical impulse that gained currency in the mid-1990s as well as to a revitalized and globalized feminist discourse. Afro-futurism denotes the use of the historical past in conjunction with technological innovation to produce aesthetic explorations of the future, fantasy, and possibility for African cultures writ large.
Tuggar is best known for her digitally manipulated and printed collages of her own photographs with found images and text. Often she combined older, sometimes historical images with contemporary scenes and people, conflating past and present and thereby constructing the fantasy aspect of her work. In other instances disparate global spaces converge (Nigeria, the cultural ‘West’, the Middle East), setting up a contemporary investigation of colonialism and post-colonial global realities.
Tuggar has frequently used a panoramic landscape format for her digital images, made possible by using plotter printers to roll out long prints. This format would seem to imply a linear narrative, or a left-to-right construction for the collages. However, Tuggar’s works upend this assumption by using a non-linear or non-narrative structure, and when linearity is invoked, it is often for short sequences and set up from right to left. Scale is also non-conformist. Given the nature of collage, people, places, and things are often overlapped and situated against each other in a non-proportional manner. The finished images read like staccato snapshots, or disarticulated narratives that often contain more than a small amount of sarcasm or political humour.
Tuggar expanded her work into video with such projects as Fusion Cuisine (2000) where post-war commercials and magazine images of domesticity geared towards the 1950s American housewife are spliced with contemporary scenes of Nigerian women cooking over open fires. Tuggar has defined herself as a feminist, having studied feminist history from around the world as well as absorbing the activities of her mother’s women’s group in Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. Fusion Cuisine, along with many of her photo and video works, deals with differing views of feminism and what constitutes oppression of women across history and in disparate regions of the world.
Other artists associated with the Afro-futurist style include Mickalene Thomas, Candice Breitz, Wangechi Mutu, and Tracey Rose (b 1974), the latter three of whom were featured in a group exhibition with Tuggar at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, in 2002.
- N. R. Fleetwood: ‘Visible Seams: Gender, Race, Technology, and the Media Art of Fatimah Tuggar’, Signs, vol.30(1) (Autumn 2004), pp. 1429–52
- Y. McKee: ‘The Politics of the Plane: On Fatimah Tuggar’s Working Women’, Visual Anthropology, vol.19 (2006), pp. 417–22
- E. Hamilton: ‘Analog Girls in a Digital World: Fatimah Tuggar’s Afrofuturist Intervention in the Politics of “Traditional” African Art’, Nka; Journal of Contemporary African Art, vol.33 (Fall 2013), pp. 70–79
- ‘Fatimah Tuggar’, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/fatimah-tuggar (accessed 17 Sept 2015)