Artist Profile: Evan Ifekoya

1 March 2021

This month we focus on Evan Ifekoya, whose work The Gender Song is featured in the National Partners Programme exhibition Paint the Town in Sound at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.


Paint the Town in Sound explores the direct links forged between musicians and artists taking Sunderland based band Field Music’s own collaborations as a starting point to explore wider trends. The exhibition questions how we engage in acts of self-portraiture through music, be this through songwriting, use of visual art or associations to music subcultures, and how the musical heritage of the region provides a route to examine our own cultural identity and its relationship to class, politics and place.

In our latest educational film, Evan Ifekoya invited the Arts Council Collection into their studio at Gasworks in South London to discuss their works in the collection, how they are collecting their own archive, and their wider practice. 

Evan Ifekoya is a London-based artist who through sound, text, moving image and performance places demands on existing systems and institutions of power, to recentre and prioritise the experience and voice of those previously marginalised. Sound plays a fundamental role in their work.

Their practice considers art as a site where resources can be both redistributed and renegotiated, while challenging the implicit rules and hierarchies of public and social space. Through archival and sonic investigations, they speculate on blackness in abundance.

Ikefoya explains “I spend a lot of time looking into the archives of artists I really admire, but also archives of the experience of black queer folk. I’m kind of interested in the resonances, the connections and the distinctions between how we have lived and how we continue.


In the film, Ifekoya reflects on The Gender Song, stating “it’s me reflecting on gender, the experience of it, what it is to navigate it. I really wanted to add a sense of playfulness, you know, a sense of lightness, actually, on what can be quite heavy and weighted topics. And you know, it still continues to be a vehicle for me, thinking through humor as a way to work through what essentially can be quite oppressive forces. And also as a way of making the issues, the concerns something that can be accessed by more people.”

Ifekoya notes how in their earlier works, they were collaging sounds from popular culture and other music references together that spoke to the concerns and things that they wanted to say around gender. They also have an interest in club culture and wanted this aspect to be visible in the work. 

Some of my most foundational and transformative experiences with music have actually been experiencing it with a sound system outside in nature...There’s something about connecting with the Earth, being right by this amazing and powerful sound system and being surrounded by people who are also having this experience...I feel like that is an energy I’m often trying to tap into.” Their ongoing investigation considers this somatic experience of listening and the healing potential of sound. 

Commenting on how it feels to be a part of the Arts Council Collection, Ifekyoa explains “Ritual Without Belief and The Gender Song being purchased by Arts Council [Collection] was my first UK public collection and it was really exciting for me. Because for me, it’s really about the work living on and being able to be seen.

Watch the full film below.




Paint the Town in Sound in association with Field Music is on view from 21 December 2020 - 6 July 2021 at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens as part of the National Partners Programme.

This is now an online exhibition which can be viewed here.


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.