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Irene Fubara-Manuel: Dreams of Disguise

17 September 201823 September 2018

Dreams of Disguise

Irene’s installation ‘Dreams of Disguise’ is a traversal of the virtual border and the racialized biometric technologies in which this space exists.

In its depiction of the trancelike out-of-body/embodied moments of biometric interaction in the border, it blurs documentary truth with science fiction, to reveal the ubiquitous surveillance of migrants and the rising desire for opacity.

Each piece expresses the dream of disguise within the symbol of a Kalabari masquerade or ‘Owu’ (translated to ‘water spirit’). A Niger Deltan cultural product, the Owu is linked to temporal borders (yearly cycles) and spatial boundaries (water and land). However, the spirit is performed by a person in disguise. Redesigned for the digital era as a trickster figure, the Owu becomes a symbol of opacity and disguise. Building from the artist’s real experiences at the UK Border these video games, moving images, and 3D printed objects link these supposedly race-neutral biometric technologies to their colonial and racist histories, subverting them in ways that grant mobility – however virtual or fictional – to black migrants.

Made with support from Legacy Film, the  University of Sussex School of Media, Film and Music and the Sussex Humanities Lab.

This exhibition is part of ONCA’s summer programme ‘Visionary Fictions‘. Supported by a project grant from Arts Council England, and as part of the national Season for Change, ONCA hosts a series of sci fi inspired workshops, talks and installations.


Mon & Tues 12 – 5pm // Wed to Sat 12 – 6pm // Sun 12 – 4pm


19 September, 6 – 9pm // Launch event including artist talk with Sorry You Feel Uncomfortable (Imani Robinson) – ‘Melanin So High..Opacity’: On Blackness, Surveillance and Resistance. Poetry performance by Akila Richards.


22 September, 1-4pm // Dreams of Disguise Critical Play 3D workshop. Engaging with user-friendly 3D softwares, the aim of this workshop is a radical imagination of virtual spaces that symbolise the participant’s dreams and memories of disguise. Following the theme of the exhibition, people of colour, QTIPOC and migrant participants are invited for this playful workshop. FREE but booking advised (via Eventbrite) as spaces are limited. Participants are advised to bring their own laptop.


17 September 2018
23 September 2018
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ONCA Gallery
14 St George's Place
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB United Kingdom

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