Karl Ohiri

Equation for Humanity

For our commissioning project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Karl Ohiri has developed a conceptual artwork that proposes a sociological equation for humanity.

ABOUT THE commission

Karl Ohiri’s practice focuses on the human condition and explores the boundaries between the private and the public space. He works across multiple art forms including photography and video, routinely incorporating text and everyday objects in his works.

Autograph commissioned Ohiri to create new work in response to the wider context of the Covid-19 pandemic for our project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. In the series Equation for Humanity (2020) Ohiri proposes what he describes as ‘a sociological equation for humanity – a formula that explores what it means to be human’. At the core of this work is an optimistic sentiment that highlights the importance of how we care for one another as a society, taking into account the challenges we face beyond the current pandemic from on-going conflicts to climate change. During lockdown on his daily walks, Ohiri collected stones as mementos which he inscribed, and later photographed with the message: I + U = US.

To contextualise this new artist commission Autograph invited writer and curator Loren Hansi Gordon to reflect on Ohiri’s Equation for Humanity, unpacking the symbolic meanings of the work. This short essay is published alongside an in-conversation between the artist and Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora.

View the Commission

Archival clamshell box for housing the stones and photographic prints


The Oneness of Things

Writer and curator Loren Hansi Gordon's reflects on Ohiri's new commission

Read more

What it Means to Be Human: In Conversation with Karl Ohiri

Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora speaks with the artist

Read more

about the artist

Karl Ohiri

Karl Ohiri (born 1983, London) is British-Nigerian artist whose multifaceted practice combines personal experiences with societal observations to address wider themes around notions of family, identity and heritage.

He often draws on intimate autobiographical narratives and vernacular photographs to piece together fragments of his family album – as evident in works such as How To Mend a Broken Heart (2013). Other aspects of his conceptual practice incorporate his studies in visual culture and semiotics as seen in A Year In Protest (2018), a body of work that reflects on the act of protesting as a fundamental human right and personal necessity to express support or defiance.

Ohiri's works have been showcased internationally in venues and exhibitions that include the Venice Biennial, Reattu Museum, Southbank Centre, The Courtauld Gallery, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery London. His works are represented in the Arts Council Collection, Wellcome Collection and The Rencontres d’Arles Collection.

You can follow the artist on Instagram, and see more of Ohiri's work on his website

Read More

part of the project

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other

Initiated during the first months of lockdown in 2020, Autograph commissioned ten UK-based creative practitioners to create new work in response to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisis.

Find out more


Can you spare a few moments? Autograph is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.

The information you provide will be held by Autograph and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can take the survey here. Thank you!

supported by

Banner image: Karl Ohiri, = [detail], from the commission Equation for Humanity, 2020. © and courtesy the artist.

View the commission: Works from Karl Ohiri's commission Equation for Humanity, 2020. Digital Black & White Fiber-Based Gloss Prints, each 12 x 16 in. © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other: 1) I [detail], 2020. 2) +, 2020. 3) U, 2020. 4) =, 2020. 5) US, 2020. 6) Archival clamshell box for housing the stones and photographic prints. Archival Box made by Riikka Kassinen / Designed by Riikka Kassinen & Karl Ohiri. Dimensions: L 53.8cm W 32.3 cm D 4.5 cm.

About the artist: 7) Karl Ohiri. Photograph by Riikka Kassinen.  Part of the Project: 8) Aida Silvestri, A Great Leveller [detail], 2020. From the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line. © and courtesy the artist.

Discover more: 9) Exhibition at Autograph. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 10) Cover of Autograph's new anthology Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 11) Aida Silvestri, Tea [detail], from the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. 12) Work from Poulomi Desai's commission Our cultures are the portals - the gateways between one world and the next [detail], 2020. © and courtesy the artist.