Friday, 28 March 2008

Breathless in Lagos

No not from the car fumes, but from the frenetic pace of activities over the past 2 months at CCA,Lagosand my commitments elsewhere but as usual it is fun all the way. So here is a quick rundown. InFebruary, apart from Ndidi Dike’s artist talk expanding on the themes in her exhibition Waka-into-Bondage (which continued to garner great interest from the Nigerian public) and that of Geerte Wachter of the Prince Claus Fund, Netherland, US based Nigerian Artist, Victor Ekpuk gave a stimulating slide presentation. He talked about his work, his interest in African writing systems and the way in which the traditional Nsibidi signs impacts on his drawing. His also discussed the way he incorporates digital media in his work which became the subject of heated discussions with the audience.

Victor Ekpuk starting his talk at CCA,Lagos
March started with Stina Hogkvist, who presented different curatorial models she has employed whilst running an alternative art gallery in Sweden and now in Oslo as curator at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. She is in West Africa on a curatorial research visit in preparation for a major project ‘Africa in Oslo’ taking place in 2009. This project aims at showing the very best of contemporary art works being made by a new generation of African artists. Africa in Oslo will introduce the work of both African artists and African curators to a Norwegian audience.

Stina Hogkvist illustrating a point during her talk at CCA,Lagos

The last visitor was US based art historian and social entrepreneur Prof Sylvester Ogbechie. Associate Professor of Art History, University of California Santa Barbara,

His talk Managing Nigeria’s Cultural Patrimony was a thought provoking presentation on need for us to value our cultural heritage. Some of the important issues that he addressed included, ‘How is Nigeria protecting its cultural heritage and more importantly, how does it understand the need to define and brand cultural patrimony in the contemporary era? The culture industry is now big business and its tangible and intangible aspects are being monetized. Who owns the intellectual property rights of African culture?What can be done to increase the value of black cultural knowledge?’

Slyvester Ogbechie during his talk at CCA,Lagos

Though the response was lively with Prof Slyvester been taken too issue on his choice of institutions to start with especially as they were government ones, many of his points still needed to be digested. What is important is that he has planted a seed in the minds of the artists and I am sure that on his next trip the important questions that he raised will be brought up. They definitely need to be continuously discussed also by the larger community nationally and internationally. On my part I hope to come back to it later here.

Artist, Chinwe Uwatse risesfull height to take on some of Ogbechie's points.

Cross section of the audience during Ogbechie's talk.


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