The featured woman is the embodiment of several significant ideas. She represents a “fattened bride” of the mbopo sorority of Ibibioland, Nigeria. The elaborate horned crown with which she is adorned speaks to an ancient masking tradition throughout the southeast regions of Nigeria (especially in Efik territories), where outstanding “maiden masks” with their signature horned coiffure were performed by men belonging to special fraternal orders.
This work is a conversation about ritual seclusion (for weight-gain, beautification, and marriage) and rebirth (the development of a new woman/ person, post-seclusion). But traditional ideas of ritual seclusion are always inextricably tied to many hours of sleep and rest. It is the ritualization of sleep within the context of body/ spiritual transformation that the maiden is transported into the dreamscape. Here, the conversation evolves to consider the dramatic lifecycle of the cicada, an insect that is secluded for seventeen years underground until it reaches full maturation, emerges (usually within the context of a swarm), mates, and dies shortly thereafter. Cicadas are known for their mating rituals, which begin with loud sounds (love songs) that they make to attract each other. In this dreamscape, there is a fusion between the shrill mating calls of the cicadas and the melodic lullabies that are being played by the fattened bride, in her dream-state, in her own seclusion. The violin (an instrument whose sound can mimic the human voice) becomes the new interpretive voice of the secluded maiden. In turn, the singing cicadas are resting on a massive window plane, in-between us (our current reality), and the dreamscape (the space in which the maiden resides).