Path Paving – E The Artist: Daranijoh Sanni

Posted April 12, 2023 in Arts and Culture


The fifth and final feature in our series of portraits and insights into our creatives with Nigerian roots by Photographer Mark Hill.

“White paint has been used to pay homage to the Nigerian heritage and woad for the Celtic. The explosion of colour behind them represents the Nigerian flag – green and white – while they also represent the Irish flag – green, white and orange. Merging both cultures at the same time…” – Mark Hill

Photographer Mark Hill approached us earlier this year about “a series of mixed media paintings” based around some Irish Nigerian creatives which he had photographed. Wanting to merge the cultural backgrounds of both nations, Hill researched traditional and modern interpretations of tribal face painting from both cultures using “colour to show the symbolism” throughout the series. Read more on the thinking behind this project here.

This vibrant series fascinated us and also piqued our curiosity about his subjects, their relationship with the city and what their creative expressions are. Over a series of Zoom chats, we discovered each of their stories.

E The Artist (Daranijoh Sanni)

E The Artist (Daranijoh Sanni) is a sound and visual artist, currently in his first year in NCAD studying Interaction Design.

“I primarily work with POC artists and BLACKBOYSBLUSH* (a visual, performance & sound project collaboration with artist Alice Rekab) was based around their expressions but it was also to take away race from it. The interviews in the book were based around creating an Irish African identity that’s not based off of what other people will tell you or of other black cultures. It was a mixture of fine artists, filmmakers and photographers and a case of this just exists and is constantly being created.

“I’m currently writing a piece on exoticness. When you look at the Black art worldwide you quickly notice that the stuff that gets noticed is based on trauma. It’s good that people are listening to these sob stories but if that is all people are doing then it feels like you are listening to a charity that is saying, ‘feel bad for me’. If you do, you’ll never actually see them as human beings.

“It’s cool to have anti-racism marches but people in Direct Provision still face this. They are just statistics. We never actually see the people. The right is winning because you rarely see a name, it doesn’t tell you the origin story, what caused them to be here…I don’t want to let politics anger me because when you become angry you become disillusioned. If you genuinely want to make an impact in this world with your own views you need to find what you are good at doing and find a way to make it. That should come inherently.

“My dad is Nigerian, my mum is English and French. I’ve pretty much spent all of my life between Coolock and Lagos. I feel as a person of colour who creates art in the digital space you can fall into this globalist version of your race. There is no such thing as one black view so I inherit a lot of things from African Americans, British Africans and African Irish.

“Most of the work I do is collaborative because it’s the work at the end of the day, not having my name at the front of it…the city needs more spaces like Unit 44 and Dublin Digital Radio in which people can, at a high standard, do whatever the hell they want. We need more spaces in which people can elaborate and where we can create more of our own philosophy.

“What matters to me is are my ideas being taken seriously, do people care about them or have they changed people’s minds. If one person comes up to you and says, ‘I found this interesting, can we talk about it?’ it is more gratifying than any amount of attention”

E The Artist played Fight Night 3: St Paddy’s Special in Tengu on March 16 and Club Comfort’s Mardi Grá in Wigwam on March 17.


Words: Michael McDermott

Portraits: Mark Hill

Read more:
Path Paving – Lauryn Creamer Nwadike

Path Paving – Farouk Alao aka Farouk858

Path Paving – Aisha Bolaji

Path Paving – Adetunji Paul


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National Museum 2024 – English


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