I prayed to the wrong god for you

Artist: Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Multichannel video installation, color, sound; six handcarved tools in vitrine. | 2019

Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s I prayed to the wrong god for you. combines video and sculptural elements in a highly personal ritual dedicated to Shango, a deity or Orisha within the Afro-Cuban religion Santería/Lucumí whose origins can be traced to the Yoruba people of Nigeria. In this project McClodden merges her spiritual requirements as a priestess of Ogun and artistic work to repair a period of personal exhaustion and to confront the relationship between Christianity and colonialism that was imposed on the artist’s ancestors: enslaved Africans, Black southerners. To begin this project McClodden cut down a cedar fir tree (a hybrid wood, distinct from the pure cedar traditionally associated with Shango) and carved six tools from cedar fir. Traveling with these objects across the United States, Cuba, and Nigeria, the artist engaged in ritual with Shango, employing the helmet on view here as a ceremonial witness. The videos, which chart the labor and time of this undertaking, offer an account of diasporic devotion and the significance of objects as storytellers. ( Image courtesy the artist and Company Gallery, New York)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)