Karl Ohiri

Equation for Humanity

For Autograph’s commissioning project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Karl Ohiri is creating new work to develop “a sociological equation for humanity". Find out more about his practice below.

Karl Ohiri, Fool, Idiot, Wicked from the series How to Mend a Broken Heart, 2013

Traversing the boundaries between the private and the public space, Karl Ohiri combines personal experiences with societal observations to address wider themes around notions of family, identity and heritage.

He often draws on intimate autobiographical narratives to piece together fragments of his family album – as evident in works such as How To Mend a Broken Heart (2013), an intimate collection of vernacular photographs in which the breakdown of the artist’s mother’s marriage is visually documented through a body of partially destroyed images and a series of snapshots that candidly narrate love, pain and frustration. 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.

For this new artist commission, Ohiri will respond to the idea of Care | Contagion | Community by implementing both aspects of his practice to develop what he describes as “a sociological equation for humanity – a formula that explores what it means to be human, and how we can coexist together to create a better, more caring world for today and tomorrow’s generations”.  At the core of his proposal is a reflection on the importance of care and community within a globalised world, considering the multiple challenges we face – from on-going conflicts, climate change to the current global pandemic.

We'll update this page as the commission progresses, join our mailing list for updates. In the meantime, read an introduction to the Care | Contagion | Community project by Autograph's Senior Curator Renée Mussai.

Karl Ohiri, Protest 28, from the series A Year in Protest, 2018

Karl Ohiri, Art Will Survive, 2016


Karl 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.


 Visit Karl Ohiri's website to see more of his work.

Watch an artist talk with Karl Ohiri and Mohini Chandra, programmed by students at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Part of Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other

Autograph has commissioned ten artists to create new work responding to the wider context of the Covid-19 crisis. Initiated during the first month of lockdown, Autograph’s curatorial team Mark Sealy, Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora have been in close dialogue with a constituency of creative practitioners in our immediate artistic community. For the first phase, we have invited UK-based artists working with photography, film and lens-based media to create a new small-scale, open-ended visual arts project. The second phase will encompass ten new writing commissions, where each writer – paired with one of the artists – will be tasked to produce a short essay contextualising these newly commissioned works.


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Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Images, from top: 1) Karl Ohiri, Fool, Idiot, Wicked from the series How to Mend a Broken Heart, 2013. 2) Karl Ohiri, Protest 28, from the series A Year in Protest, 2018. 3) Karl Ohiri, Art Will Survive, 2016. Working neon / Non-working neon. All images courtesy of and © Karl Ohiri