Sunday, 22 February 2009

Like A Virgin Opens at CCA,Lagos

This was a special exhibition and a very special and beautiful opening with an impressive attendance. We rolled many things into the day. A panel discussion, readings from author Jude Dibia, some soft guitar music and finished it off with nice reception where people enjoyed mingling. Gabi Ngcobo Zanele Muholi were missed as there was great interest in meeting and talking with her.

I was apprehensive about how people would react to the exhibition and closer to the date I half expected either the state/fed authorities to come and arrest me for promoting same sex activities or for a group of Christian fundamentalist to come and protest or worse try and destroy the images. But neither manifested. And we had the best opening ever!!! One big learning point is that Nigerian audience are ready for and interested in being challenged and the diet of platitudes they are continuously fed in the form of mother and child, fulani milkmaid, market woman hardly allows them to engage with changes in their contemporary society.

Artist/Art Historian Ken Okoli and Artist, Lucy Azubuike
The panel discussion was interactive and informal, steered more than moderated by Hansi Momodu project co-ordinator at CCA,Lagos to open out important themes and issues not only from the exhibition but also from Dibia’s book “Walking with Shadows”. (A must read)

As curator of the exhibition I talked about the idea and development of the exhibition and about Zanele’s work. The need to open up artistic platform and discourse, to bring important but ‘hidden’ issues to the fore through contemporary art and to present a small but coherent body of work by two emerging woman artists.

Cross Section of the Audience at Opening Panel Discussion

Cross Section of the Audience at Opening Panel Discussion.

Author Jude Dibia talking with Artist Nkechi Nwosu Igbo and guest Mrs Akinyanju.

Author, Jude Dibia read from Walking with Shadows and gave short but extremely articulate and insightful introduction to the pages he picked and talked to us about repressed and expressed female sexuality in his book. He also continued the discussion on the use of artistic practice as a way of addressing the issue of female sexuality, homosexuality and traditions of shame,

Artist and Art Historian, Ken Okoli addressed the image of body in art around the world generally and specifically in traditional African art. However the absence and its presence within modern and contemporary Nigerian art has its precedents in a history of slavery, colonialism and maybe more than any in the way in which Christianity was introduced to Africa and also Western artform. So much touched on but yet so much more to cover.

Artist Lucy Azubuike with Aunty Yemi Afolabi.

Arts Journalist Molara Wood with Bisi Silva and Ken Okoli
Artist, Lucy Azubuike spoke about how many of the issues that inspire her work emanate from real life interactions and observations. The way in which tradition and religion impact cruelly on women’s lives and worse of all how women enforce most of these traditional and religious beliefs on themselves without any critical interrogation on the validity of their acts. Through her works she undertakes this questioning – creatively.
The interest generated saw all the copies of "Walking with Shadows" available sell out, as did all copies of Zanele’s "Only Half the Picture" and almost all the initial 40 odd copies of the catalogue Like A Virgin…

CCA,Lagos is also happy to have teamed up for the first ‘Pages’ event, organised by Aderemi Adegbite where we looked at the relationship between literature and art. The choice of Dibia's book fitted perfectly with the theme of the exhibition. We hope to continue this collaboration which will see us choosing for each session and exhibition a book that furthers the critical discussion of the works on display in the gallery. It also brings in a diverse audience to CCA,Lagos.

Hansi Momodu speaking with Photographer Abraham Oghobase and Artist, Jelili Atiku

Artist Ndidi Dike talking with Ken Okoli

Curator Bisi Silva with Artist Lucy Azubuike bringing out the champagne!
Like A Virgin... continues till the 14th of March.
9 McEwen Street, Sabo, Yaba


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