Artifact_012 . Brooklyn, 2017 [photo by Derek Schultz]

Iyapo Repository

  • Year: 2016... ongoing
  • Team: Directors: Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde, Salome Asega | Conservators: Mala Kumar, Mariama Jalloh, Mischa Abakumova, Nicole Lloyd, Jae Pearl
  • Role:

    Concept, Design, Technology

Iyapo Repository is a resource library that exists in a nondescript future that was founded to collect and preserve artifacts to ensure the history and legacy of people of African descent. It is named after Lilith Iyapo, a character in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series. Lilith Iyapo is the last remaining human left to straddle two complex worlds.

The library's conservators work closely with a global team of archivists to maintain the growing collection of art and artifacts. Through a series of workshops and exhibitions, participants are invited to become archivists, conservators then work with archivists to uncover the artifacts via prototyping sessions.

The repository is comprised of four major divisions: "Manuscripts" stores the Field Notes as archived documents; "Art & Artifacts" houses unearthed artifacts; "Moving Image" holds films made about the artifacts; and "Rare Books" contains ancillary documents contextualizing the repository

Iyapo Repository and The Laundromat Project @ Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art, 2016

Iyapo Repository workshop @ ICA Richmond, 2020


    In 90-minute design futuring workshops, participants are asked to become Archivists and healing practitioners by providing prescriptions for the community. In the workshop, they play a card game that gets them to think of the future in different domains (ie, politics, fashion, food, health, etc). Prescriptions are recorded on manuscripts and at times roughly prototyped by participants during the workshops.

Iyapo Repository Cards, 2016

Iyapo Repository workshop @ Library of Congress, 2018

Participant prototype from Iyapo Repository workshop @ Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, 2016

Manuscript Division

    Archivists (participants) fill out official Field Notes, that detail the artifacts, these documents are preserved in our Manuscript Division for further study. The Field Notes serve as blueprints for recovering, building, and restoring artifacts. Based on the archivists' drawings, conservators work tediously to preserve the artifact as it once was, so they can be exhibited in the main collection.

Manuscript of Artifact_012, 2016

Manuscript of Artifact_025, 2016

Manuscript of Artifact_046, 2016

Manuscript Division, 2016 - Aluminum, wood, acrylic, gloves, manuscripts [photo by Magali Duzant]

Arts & Artifacts Division

    From the archive manuscripts, the Iyapo Repository team works to develop the field notes into fully technologically functional artifacts.

Artifact_012, 2016 - Spandex fabric, EVA foam, tubing, motors, Raspberry Pi [photo by Derek Schultz]

Artifact_025, 2016 - 3d printed PLA, Raspberry Pi, GPS module, chain [photo by Kearra Amaya Gopee]

Artifact_046, 2016 - Pill capsules, acrylic, Arduino, OLED screens [photo by Magali Duzant]

Moving Image Division

    In addition to producing final finished artifacts, Iyapo Repository creates short films for each artifact, placing the artifact surreally in situ of the narrative. The manuscript archive is open to filmmakers to create and screen films made from artifacts and manuscripts in the collection.

Mother Radio [Artifact_111], 2017 - Color digital video (TRT 0:3:20)

Water Suit [Artifact_012], 2017 - Color digital video (TRT 0:1:56) [photo by Kearra Amaya Gopee]

Rare Books

    The Rare Books Division features books that have inspired our process by highlighting zines and books that focus on blackness and futurity. Iyapo Repository works on getting zines and books from all over the world but tries to emphasize content related to local issues.

    Included in this division is The Dead Drop Library, a series of mounted USB ports, that allow participants to insert a USB flash drive to collect a curated selection of digital materials that have influenced the project. Files range from .mp3s, .pdfs, .movs, and .jpgs.

Artifact_080, 2017 - Raspberry Pi, wood, acrylic, usb stick

Dead Drop [Artifact_080] @ August Wilson Center, 2017


    Also included in the Rare Books Division is Monolith, an interactive digital library, that allows participants to email themselves a random selection of curated digital materials that have influenced the project. Files range from .mp3s, .pdfs, .movs, and .jpgs.

Monolith @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 2019

Monolith input screen

Monolith touch-glow panel

Monolith @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 2019

Monolith [Artifact_080], 2019 - Raspberry Pi, wood, acrylic, wifi panel

Special Projects

    All content in the Iyapo Repository archive, from Manuscripts to Artifacts are open to the public to research. Iyapo Repository invites artists, scholars, and researchers to make use of the archives to create original works or re-interpret current works. We welcome remixing of all kinds whether it is rapid prototyping, virtual reality engineering, digital fabrication, installations, sound, or film.

Artifact_063, 2017 - Fabric, soil, seeds [collaborator, Becs Epstein]

Artifact_063 and Artifact_222 @ August Wilson Center, 2017 [collaborator, Becs Epstein]

Still from Lowly-Pops [Artifact_221], 2019 - Color digital video (TRT 0:3:20) [collaborator, Ricardo Robinson, Alisha B Wormsley]

Creating Artifacts using Tilt Brush and HTC Vive @ August Wilson Center, 2017 [various artists]

Creating Artifacts using Tilt Brush and HTC Vive @ August Wilson Center, 2017 [various artists]

Commemorative, 2017 - Embroidered patches