A letterpress type-case is a specialized storage compartment used in traditional letterpress printing. It is designed to hold individual metal or wood type characters, as well as other elements used in typesetting for letterpress printing. Kelani Abass inherited the printing business of his parents in Lagos, Nigeria and repurposes such type cases not for letters, but as vessels of remembrance. Through this adaptation, he explores the importance of material heritage and the archive as a bridge between past and present. The photographic image is the starting point of multi-layered work intertwines with the letterpress type-case, assuming the role of a vessel. The outcome is profoundly captivating. This type case metamorphoses into a tangible embodiment of memory, housing moments and historical occurrences within its compartments—readily accessible yet also nestled within, waiting to resurface. Kelani Abass masterfully unravels his personal history in layers, resulting in a multi-faceted representation of his past. As part of the New Photography 2023 exhibition at MoMA, we can explore our own memories while reflecting upon the pieces presented.

Unfolding Layers 6, 2021 ©Kelani Abass
Unfolding layers 5, 2021 ©Kelani Abass
Casing History, Spilling Memories 1, 2022 ©Kelani Abass