Thursday, 30 October 2008

Catching up with Abraham Oghobase during the video workshop

Sent in by CCA,Lagos Projects Co-ordinator Hansi Momodu

On the third day of CCA, Lagos’ One Minute Video workshop I managed to catch up with one of the artists taking part in the workshop, who have been otherwise dispersed across the city in search of footage. Abraham Onoriode Oghobase is a photographer by profession and has exhibited in Europe, Nigeria and Morocco .
Abraham take a pause from editing.

Abraham explained how the workshop has been an opportunity to further develop a project he is currently working on using photography, and also to explore the inter-relation between photography and video as forms of artistic expression. Whilst drawing inspiration from a search for ‘personal meaning’ and remaining positive about places such as CCA, Lagos that are changing ways and educating, he still feels the strain of being an Artist in a city where people are ‘unaware’ and ‘don’t always appreciate’ the arts. Abraham is an Artist who gives himself wholly - emotionally and physically - to his art and said he had backache and felt sick after filming himself flying, backwards! But excitingly, Abraham was certain that this workshop was the beginning. He’s ‘hooked’ on video, and the One Minute Video has helped him to develop his project in ways not possible in the medium of photography alone. Watch t/his space.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

For the Love of Video Art

CCA,Lagos started its programme focusing over a one year period on a specific medium - Video Art - in line with its objectives to provide a platform for experimental practices. The one week introductory workshop started in earnest on monday with lead artists Selby Gildemacher and Heerko van der Kooij from the One minute Video Foundation in Amsterdam settling into Lagos life.

We have 8 participants from a nice mix of artistic backgrounds, performance art, fine artist, poets, photographers, a computer graduate with an art penchant and a sound artist. The group dynamics has been really good. By Tuesday evening they were getting the hang of the new medium and how to articulate their ideas visually. The themes coming out range from the personal to the social and political commentary to portraits of the city to imagining a different reality.

So to keep short it, here are some pics from the first two days. We will profile 2-3 of the participants over the next few days.

Participants brainstorming.

Jelili Atiku preparing his 1min video.

Tough Love in Maputo

My schedule has been nothing short of hectic and whilst i have so much i would love to share as i can't seem to write short entries i keep putting it off till I find that ever elusive time to write something in full. Over the past 10months i have amassed quite a collection of unfinished blog entries. I will have to see how I can turn that into some kind of project a la Hans Ulrich Obrist's The Agency for Unrealised Project one. Actually come to think of it I have amassed quite a collection of unrealised curatorial projects which i remember with fondness. For example an exhibition of Shirin Neshat (before she became famous) and Farah Bajull or Wouldn't take nothing for my journey which was a group exhibition with artists such as David Hammons, Leonardo Drew, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simposon etc, or the exhibition of Kara Walker (Also before she became famous. I came across her work when she had only had 1 exhibition at the Drawing Center which was very well received and she had finished her MA at RISD and was applying for AIR at the Studio Museum Harlem. I was doing my curatorial internship and came across her work in the applications and just loved. I was asked to prepare all the applications as the jury would be meeting and of course I arranged it in order of my preferences with Walker on top and Shepp (Archie i think) 2nd. The didn't take her and the rest is history. These were presented to galleries in London in the mid90's and I guess they weren't really ready then. So HUO let me know when you are doing your next AUP. See if I can dig them out of the cobwebs. Anyway I digress (see what I mean).

So Maputo. Yes I was there about 10 days ago (Becoming my favourite place in this our beautiful continent) at the invitation of the Goethe Institute. A portfolio review for over 20 photographers meeting 6-7 curators from Africa and Europe was organised to take place during the Maputo PhotoFesta. At the last minute Photofesta was cancelled and a decision was taken to continue with the PReview. Well Done Goethe Institute for sticking to your guns. One of the best things you done - not that you don't always - apart from feeding us with all those huge prawns, fish, and other delicious Mozambican food. Okay!!!! Don't get me wrong it was seriously hardwork and I have yet to recover - from the good food and WORK.

far right CO Berlin curator Felix Hoffman

Short short - It was a fantastic professional and networking opportunity. For years cultural workers in the visual arts complain that there are few opportunities to meet and interact intensively and this was a model that was beneficial and important for all who attended.
1. We live on the same continent and we don't know each other. When will we stop flying over Africa to Europe? Yes when will we stay long enough on the continent and visit each other? Although I travel quite a bit most of the time people think it is to Europe but most of my travel is actually within Africa and I now find it bizarre when people say they have not been to any or not more than 1 or 2 countries EVEN within their region of the continent. Of course my favourite point of conversation is how many African countries have you visited.
2. It was a great opportunity for the curators to see a diversity of work. Each photographer saw or was supposed to see 3 curators but you know una people some saw 4-6.
3. It was the first time almost all of them were getting 'serious' critical feedback about their work.
4. Out of the 12-13 photographers I saw, I found about 5%good 10% interesting, 10% with potential with more guidance/feedback, 15% neither here or there and 20% who had to go back and think hard about which
direction they want to take if they want to continue with photographer. There is still a window of opportunity for them. And the rest were made to understand not to give up their day job.
I remember on the evening of the first review, saw many long faces and the mood was sober. I think shock. It is not easy going through a critical review especially the first time but I was happy to see that by the next day these photographers came out guns smoking, ready to make the effort necessary to advance their field. The best part of the day was when I met one of the photographers who sampled a portion of the 'tough love' staple at an opening of an exhibition said to me beaming with a smile 'I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU', and asked somebody to take a picture of us.I will NEVER FORGET HIM too. That in essence was what the event was about.

A lot of activities local and international on the continent over the past 10-20years has been focused on artists' residencies - making work without any real or new developments to deal with other challenges artists face. Photography has more of a challenge as there are few if any - outside of S.Africa probably - that offer tertiary qualifications in photography or digital art. As for the critical or contextual aspect. Forget it! We have barely begun.
I did leave a bit confused and dejected as in my mind I kept asking. Where do we begin? I guess my small consolation is that I CCA,Lagos does have an art library (won't tell you how many people bother to come) and photography and other lens based media are one of the areas of focus.

Cross section of photographers and
curator Khwezi Gule (right side with glasses)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

One Minute Video Art Workshop takes place at CCA,Lagos

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present its first video art workshop programme for 2008/9. Following in the steps of its successful first workshop in Enugu in 2007, The One Minute Foundation will lead the training.
Workshop Content Includes
  • Screening of existing One Minute Video selected from over 60 countries.
  • Discussion on content and style of the video
  • Introduction to different video art approaches
  • Development of participants own ideas – storyboard, visual concept etc.
  • Implementation of ideas and editing of individual works
  • Screening of video art works to a public audience
  • Receipt of a dvd of the workshop, a cd of individual work/s

Dates: Monday 27th October – Saturday 1st November (6 days) 9am – 6pm
Venue: Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, 9McEwen Street, Off Queens Street, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos
Workshop Level: Beginners
Target Audience: Artists. Experience and/or interest in the visual arts preferable. Emphasis is on talent, motivation and a keen interest in experimenting in new forms of artistic production.
Fee:N2,500 non-refundable (first come first serve basis only) Spaces are limited.

For more information call Oyinda on 07055680104 or email
Application closes Friday 24th of October 2008

The One Minutes Foundation is a non profit organisation stimulating the making and showing of audio-visual works that last exactly one minute. It is initiated by the Sandberg Institute, the postgraduate programme of the Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.

Coming Jan 2009! 2nd Intensive 2week Video Art Workshop.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Iba N'Diaye may have passed on, but his art remains forever.

Iba N'Diaye in Paris, 1987
It is with sadness that I read the email sent to me by Florence Alexis about the passing of the Senegalese artist Iba N'Diaye at the ripe old age of 80years. Since then tributes have been circulating through emails, blogs and other online and offline postings. But in Africa at the age of 80, we don't mourn a death but give thanks for old age and celebrate a life. In this case we rejoice that N'Diaye was able to live long enough to leave - like in the tradition of his forefathers - a legacy we to be guarded at all cost, a body of knowledge that will benefit Africa for decades and centuries to come. We are indeed fortunate. We thank him for a job well done and pray for the repose of his soul with the ancestors. Long Live Iba N'Diaye.

Below is the tribute by Ms Alexis who curated his retrospective "Iba Ndiaye, L'oeuvre de Modernité" during Dak'art08.

Le Siècle court d'Iba Ndiaye : Peintre, Ample… et Africain
Au terme d
e cinquante années de pure peinture et de dessin obstiné, Iba Ndiaye, Maître ubiquitaire du trait et de la couleur au Sénégal, s'est éteint le 4 octobre à Paris, à l'âge de 80 ans, au moment même où s'achève à Dakar sa grande rétrospective : "L'Œuvre de Modernité". Il a commencé sa carrière dans les années cinquante, après avoir étudié à l'École d'Architecture de Montpellier puis à l'École Nationale des Beaux-Arts à Paris et travaillé à l'atelier du grand sculpteur russe Ossip Zadkine qui guidera son regard vers la statuaire africaine.

En 2002, le curateur et critique américain d'origine nigériane Okwui Enwezor (directeur artistique de Documenta 11, Kassel, 2002) écrit : "Iba Ndiaye fait partie de cette génération d'Africains d'une importance décisive (…), au nombre desquels Sembène Ousmane, … ou Camara Laye... Cette génération, dans l'immédiat après-guerre, commença à concevoir et à préciser un discours de la modernité culturelle africaine, bâti par rapport au cadre interna­tional. Ce qui distingue cette Négritude réside dans sa compréhension intellectuelle rigoureuse du jeu de miroirs - ou du chat et de la souris - qui est au cœur du débat moderniste. Pour la génération de Ndiaye, la Négritude a façonné une dialectique de luttes créatives qui a permis aux artistes de s'affranchir du complexe d'infériorité imposé par la domination coloniale".

Car Ndiaye naît en 1928, l'année où le Bal Nègre de la rue Blomet défraie la chronique, alors que Paul Morand publie son "Paris - Tombouctou" et où Senghor entre en khâgne au lycée Louis-le-Grand. Au sortir de cette 'vogue nègre' de l'entre-deux guerres -et sa kyrielle de clichés : tribal, primitif, exotique, naïf ou instinctif…-, ainsi que d'autres artistes comme Aimé Césaire ou Wifredo Lam, Iba Ndiaye va, lui, s'emparer du dessin comme outil d'investigation des univers esthétiques qu'il s'approprie pour bâtir un vocabulaire visuel mondialisé par les aléas de l'Histoire coloniale, un langage métis, subtil et ombrageux, dressé contre une notion abâtardie d'un art dit 'primitif'.

Or, qui se risquerait à parler du métissage esthétique d'un Braque ou d'un Picasso après leur rencontre-choc avec l'Afrique des masques ? "La peinture de chevalet est une invention européenne et l'idée d'un peintre noir nous reste étrangère… Alors que la sculpture africaine a acquis ses lettres de noblesse… un peintre africain qui s'approprie la tradition picturale de l'Europe ne peut être à nos yeux qu'un épigone. Le préjugé exclut d'emblée tout jugement sur sa peinture", écrit le conservateur néerlandais Franz Kaiser dans sa préface à l'exposition de Ndiaye au Musée de La Haye en 1996 et il ajoute: "Pour I. Ndiaye, le caractère essentiel de la modernité procède d'une culture métissée. Il travaille les données de sa toile de fond africaine, sans fabriquer d'objets ethniques".

Alors qu'il arpente les musées, crayon en main, yeux grands ouverts, 'dévorant' l'art et les techniques des maîtres du monde entier depuis son atelier de La Ruche, et malgré son envergure majeure d'artiste virtuose et rigoureux : "les accomplissements d'I. Ndiaye ne reçurent pas la reconnaissance due : ils furent marginalisés dans les textes théoriques sur l'art du 20ème siècle […] Une telle omission rend invisible l'importante influence […] exercée sur les pratiques modernistes d'occident… Car, ajoute Salah Hassan (commissaire d'Authentic/Ex-centric, Conceptualisme dans l'art africain contemporain, 49ème Biennale de Venise), ces artistes "tentèrent de contester ce récit du modernisme occidental et de rebâtir l'idée d'un art moderne pluriel".

Puisant dans les soubassements et les mythes de 'ses' cultures, Iba Ndiaye explorera une suite de thèmes récurrents. Le sacrifice, dans sa série des "Tabask" (qu'il relie au Bœuf écorché de Rembrandt) ; puis celui des "Rham", métaphore de l'esprit des ancêtres dans la mythologie wolof, qu'il traite en pâte dense ; ou ses "Jazz & Blues" au lavis d'encre et noir de fumée. Enfin, quand il traite de la symbolique du sacrifice ("Ne soyez pas des moutons !"), Ndiaye expose aussi une dramaturgie contemporaine qui résonne loin : en 1985, il travaille à une œuvre maîtresse "Juan de Pareja menacé par des chiens" : à plus de trois siècles de distance, l'assistant mulâtre de Velázquez -peintre noir dans un monde blanc en 1650- détourne le regard des chiens aux crocs luisants (chasseurs d'esclaves ?) qui le cernent en hurlant.

Tabaski, esquisse, huile sur toile, 1966

Tête, lavis au brou de noix, 1977
Dans son va-et-vient entre l'Afrique et l'Europe, ajoute S. Hassan : "Iba Ndiaye incarne aujourd'hui l'une des plus imposantes figures du champ de l'art contemporain africain et ses travaux ont implicitement exercé une influence puissante" sur les étoiles montantes de la scène artistique actuelle: El Anatsui, Soly Cissé, Barthélémy Toguo ou Yinka Shonibare… Tous sont dotés d'une matière première artistique sophistiquée et détenteurs de solutions plastiques qui ont bouleversé les canons de l'art européen au début du 20ème siècle, ils ne sortent pas du néant par une vague pulsion viscérale. Regarder l'œuvre d'Iba Ndiaye, c'est remédier au syndrome de la "génération spontanée", où la création procéderait d'un surgissement insolite, sans Histoire ; c'est élucider en même temps les pratiques, les propositions et la démarche de ceux qui viennent après lui.

C'est un héritage précieux, incomparable, que nous délivre Iba Ndiaye. Nous devons beaucoup à sa détermination d'homme de vigie, à l'ascèse inflexible et à la fermeté expressive, gestuelle, du peintre. Solide, Iba Ndiaye n'a jamais désarmé. Chaque fois, l'Éveilleur nous bouleverse encore. Honneur et Respect.

Florence Alexis, Paris, 6 octobre 2008.


Ms Alexis states:
A ceremony will gather all his friends, relatives, colleagues and the artistic community on Saturday, October 11, firstly at the Funerarium 57 BD de Ménilmontand 75020 in Paris at 9:30 am, then at the Crematorium of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery 71 rue des Rondeaux 75020 Paris (Gambetta metro station) at 10:30 am.
For more information contact
F. Alexis +33 (0)1 43 07 45 36 / +33(0)6 10 04 01 15

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Nigeria clocks 48 today 1st October 2008

Nigerians, especially Lagosians can party oh. Have you been to a engagement, wedding, 40th, 50th, 60th,70th, 80th and even 90th (yes we do live that long sometimes) birthday parties. We call them owambes in Lagos which translates roughly as it is all there - everything is there, ori shirishi dey dere. As the legendary Fela would say, diffren, diffren ting e dey, flying geles nko, e dey, beta lace nko, e dey, amala nko, e dey, eba nko e dey, in fackt wich one no dey. So if we can party at an individual's event then we should be having a mother of all parties on our 48th year independence celebration. 1st October 2008 will probably go down as the quietest day in our recent history. That the political class has failed us is incontrovertible. What is worse is that even the politicians know it, highlighting the seriousness of the situation, hence their silence today. But we need to sing out loud,

Arise O Compatriots
Nigeria's call obey
To serve our Fatherland,
With love and strength and faith
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One Nation bound in

coz God im dey pass all!