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Fabula Rasa

November 2 – December 17, 2022

Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm

Ghalia Benali
Hana Yilma Godine
Dindga Mc
Ambrose Rhapsody Murray

Wura-Natasha Ogunji

Anastasiia Podervianska
Sahana Ramakrishnan

Alisa Sikelianos-Carter

Nafis M. White


Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 2, 5–8pm

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Nafis M. White, Oculus (Royal Blue, Sky Blue, Blonde, Tangerine, Brown), 2021, Hair, Embodied Knowledge, Ancestral Recall, Audacity of Survival, Bobby Pins, 59 x 25.5 x 5.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Cade Tompkins Projects.

Fridman Gallery is honored to present Fabula Rasa, a group exhibition of nine artists from across generations and around the world who create new myths by taking traditional fables as points of departure. The exhibition is a collection of stories, a platform for experiencing the rituals depicted by the artists, an opportunity for the gallery space itself to become ceremonial grounds.


Ghalia Benali’s mixed-media drawings and genre-defying songs take inspiration from mystical Sufi poetry. Hana Yilma Godine’s paintings on floral chiffon fabrics feature divine female characters from ancient Abyssinian mythology. Dindga McCannon’s quilted sculpture bedazzles a classical bust with shimmering sequins. 

Ambrose Rhapsody Murray’s photo-prints on organza scrims framed with hand-carved wood are devotional altars to the artist’s matrilineal ancestors. Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s ink-and-thread drawings on tracing paper depict Yoruba deities – Ochun, associated with beauty, love, sensuality, pleasure, and Yemaya, the god of origins, motherhood, the ocean. 

Anastasiia Podervianska‘s quilt retells a Ukrainian folk tale of a serpent attacking a woman and her cow for their milk. Sahana Ramakrishnan‘s paintings reverse the hierarchies often found in traditional Indian miniatures – hunter turns prey, male serves female. 

Alisa Sikelianos-Carter‘s celestial silk tapestry of gouache, mica, and obsidian stone embeds within it the diversity of the color black and of the Black experience. Nafis M. White’s large-than-life Oculus combines Black hair, beauty products, and hairstyling techniques with the intricate customs of Victorian Hair Weaving and mourning traditions.

With press inquiries, please contact Hanna Gisel,

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Performance Program:

Wednesday, November 9, 7pm: Tilt

Kalia Vandever (trombone), Isabel Crespo Pardo (vocals), and Carmen Rothwell (standup bass) 


Thursday, November 17, 7pm: Victoria Keddie record release + performance


Thursday, December 15, 1pm: (Zoom) Artist talk: Dindga McCannon and Ghalia Benali, moderated by Monika Fabijanska

Watch Recording

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“Crystal tears and feathered dress
Dead lover sought by a princess
Desperately holding a mirror
That whispers forgotten tales”

Ghalia Benali, 1 - Sortilèges - Crystal Tears, 2013/2022, Paper, ink, walnut ink, pen, gouache, pastel on paper, 19.5 x 25.5 inches

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Hana Yilma Godine, Substance in Ethiopia 3, 2022, Oil, fabric and acrylic on canvas, 120 x 108 inches

Selam (Australopithecus afarensis), a female body that lived 3.3 million years ago, the earliest human ancestral fossil that was found in Dikika, Ethiopia in 2000, is a reference to the place and the origin of the human race. Thus, Ethiopia is the origin of the body. In my paintings, fabric as a material is a metaphor for the fabric of life, reflecting the multiple fashions, languages, cultures, religions, and celebrations in Ethiopia.


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Anastasiia Podervianska, The Woman and the Serpents, 2015, textile, hand embroidery, 55.5 x 74 inches

The Woman and the Serpents

There once was a serpent as thick as a human’s arm, short and stubby as a log, with a head as big and round as a child’s. The serpent would drink from a cow, wrapping himself around its hind leg. The young woman who tended the cow could never have imagined a serpent drinking from it. One day she went to milk her cow and saw the serpent wrapped around one of the cow’s hind legs, suckling its milk. The young woman hit the serpent and he crawled back to the cellar where he lived. Having milked the cow, the young woman tapped the milk and brought it to the cellar. When she entered the cellar the serpent fell down on her from the ceiling, wrapped around her body and started to drink from her as he had from the cow. She tried her best to get rid of him; asked people to help but the serpent could not be removed. The young woman died with the serpent wrapped around her – and only after her death could the serpent be removed. The cow did not fare any better. 

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Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Ochun y Yemaya, Moonlight, 2022, Thread, ink, graphite on tracing paper, 24 x 24 inches

Ochun and Yemaya are two deities, or orisha, in the Yoruba religious pantheon. Yoruba
philosophy describes how we are deeply connected to the natural world, all aspects of which
are embodied by the gods. Ochun is the river deity associated with beauty, love, sensuality,
pleasure, vanity. Yemaya is the god of origins, motherhood, the ocean. People brought their
orisha from West Africa across the Atlantic during the slave trade resulting in the presence of
these gods in all parts of the Americas. These divinities would not only offer protection in the
so-called 'New World', but would provide a critical life philosophy and belief system which
could be practiced collectively, in both private and public spaces through the building of altars,
participation in rituals, and performance of ceremonial dance and song. I like thinking about
the surface of the paper as the floor of ceremony, with the line of a drawing as a way for energy
to enter that space. It's possible that this is a drawing of Oshun and Yemaya, but also possible
that these two women connected by the sea-river-lagoon are Oshun and Yemaya. The drawing
not only describes the two water deities, but also embodies them.

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The Ocean Beneath the Sea
Is where she went - 
I'm sure.
Somewhere where her shy light
Wont be swallowed
In chaos.

Sahana Ramakrishnan
The Ocean Beneath the Sea, 2022
Oil on canvas
26 x 18 x 2.25 inches

Installation walkthrough of Fabula Rasa. Video by Walker Esner.


Installation photo of Fabula Rasa. Photo by Walker Esner.

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