Fernanda Brenner: Let’s start from the beginning. Could you tell me about your own career path, as well as the development of HOA?
Igi Lola Ayedun: I began my career in publishing when I was only 14-years-old at a major Brazilian publishing house. This experience was formative and has opened many doors: it was how I first heard about indie music and contemporary art exhibitions! In 2009, I took a contemporary art course, which I really enjoyed. However, it seemed impossible to me to be able to make a living out of contemporary art. At the time I had to help my mother financially so I couldn’t be a full-time artist. Instead, I ended up working in design and architecture in Paris for seven years, where I worked with many luxury brands and also did some independent and collective projects with friends from all over the world.
When I moved back to Brazil in 2017, I was amazed by the change that had taken place in the country. In 2010, when I had left, the art and fashion scenes were completely white-dominated. But, when I returned seven years later, spaces seemed to be opening up for BIPOC artists to produce work. Things were much less segregated. I wanted to share the connections I’d made in Europe with this new, vibrant generation of creators in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
I also felt like the time was right for me to accept myself as an artist and start developing my own personal research. I stopped working in fashion and design, rented a studio, and started creating art in collaboration with some people who I still collaborate with. Many of the things we worked on together ended up feeding into what HOA is today.
FB: So from day one HOA has been an artist-led endeavor. How is it structured?
ILA: HOA aims to enable self-management and collective production. Our main goal is to help artists engaged in our initiative to take control of their own production and find the means to sustain and protect themselves. The bourgeois dream of being able to be a full-time artist with enough time and capacity to develop work is incompatible with many of our realities. To combat this situation, we knew we had to work together and think collectively. Then, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic made things even tougher. I realized it was the right moment to start a more ambitious project. Given my CV and network, I knew I had the right tools to set up a business, so I decided to open a gallery to help bring money to my creative community.