Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The first comprehensive monograph on Ben Enwonwu launches in Lagos on the 18th of March 2009

Whilst important monographs on living elder artists such as Uche Okeke and Yusuf Grillo have been published by the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria, none are available on their pioneering predecessors such as Aina Onabolu or Ben Enwonwu. Few art history book launches in Lagos have been anticipated as much as University of California, Santa Barbara professor Slyvester Ogbechie's seminal publication, Ben Enwonwu, The Making of an African Modernist. It is hoped that this will set the pace for more indepth scholarly publications on early African modernist artists such as Aina Onabolu and Akinola Lasekan among others, contributing to the development, understanding and appreciation of Nigerian and African art history. Maybe this project could be a catalyst for the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria to consider partnering with Nigerian art historians, working with currently moribund local university presses and collaborating with international academic/university presses to turn some of the noteworthy Phd research theses that are lying fallow into major publications. An example is University of Nigeria art historian Dr Ola Oloidi's years of indepth research into the life and works of Nigerian's first modern painter Aina Onabolu, or Ahmadu Bello University, Dr Ken Okoli's research on Nigerian women artists from 1955-1985. These are substantial materials that should be made available to a wide public.

Congratulations to Prof. Slyvester Ogbechie for his perserverance and for a noteworthy achievement and contribution to a better understanding of Nigerian and African Art. Visit aachronym for more information.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

You are invited to 'The World is Flat' on 21st March 2009

CCA,Lagos presents its second exhibition for the year, an international project collaboration with Danish curator Johanne Loegstrup who will be visiting Lagos with participating artist Lasse Lau.

Come and enjoy another stimulating cultural afternoon at CCA,Lagos.
You are welcome to our World.

Click image to enlargen

Monday, 9 March 2009

You are invited to 'In the Light of Play ' opening on 11th March at Durban Art Gallery

Artists in the exhibition
Bongi Bengu
Berry Bickle
Sokari Douglas - Camp CBE
Helga Khol
Monique Pelser
Pinar Yolacan
See below for more information.
or email info@ccalagos.org

Sunday, 8 March 2009

CCA,Lagos goes to South Africa with 'In the Light of Play'

Pinar Yolacan 'Maria Series' 2007, Courtesy Rivington Arms
“In the Light of Play”

11th - 27th March 2009

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA,Lagos) is pleased to present to a Durban audience on its first tour in South Africa, its inaugural special projects initiative. “In the light of play” is an exhibition organised by Nigerian curator, Bisi Silva consisting of works by acclaimed artists; Berry Bickle (Zimbabwe) Sokari Douglas Camp (Nigeria/UK) Helga Kohl (Namibia) Bongi Bengu (South Africa), Pinar Yolacan (Turkey) and Monique Pelser (South Africa).

“In the light of play”, eschews a prescribed framework to highlight multiple connections, interconnections and even disconnections in the work of individual artists. Through this format the exhibition communicates the way in which artists are dealing with some of the salient issues in contemporary society as they affect us individually and collectively; culture and tradition, identity, memory, presence and absence, the body, consumption and commodification as well as social injustice. The artists work in a diversity of media including scultpture, painting, photography and mixed media articulating a myriad of contextual and aesthetic concerns.

Pinar Yolacan presents works from her critically acclaimed series “Maria”, a collection of 22 stunning life size portrait photographs of African-Brazilian women. Taken over a twelve month period in Itaparica, Bahia Maria portrays the women dressed in elaborate hand sewn couture costumes with trimmings of ‘unusual’ materials such as velvet, satin, tripe, placenta and liver. Through this series, Yolacan engages with issues of beauty , the female body, colonialism, photograph and death.

Yolacan was born in Ankara, turkey in 1981. She studied fashion at Central Saint Martins and Media at Chelsea School of Art, London. She graduated with a BFA from Cooper Union in New York, USA.

Monique Pelser, 'The day Mbeki resigned'
Monique Pelser presents a lyrical yet haunting series of close-up portraits, appropriated from South African newspaper photographs and taken with a Nokia 5200. In “Bystanders” (2008) the starting point is the images of ‘marginal’ bystanders instead of central characters involved in various historical ways in South African history. The images are taken from newspapers reporting on local and global events such as the oil embargo, Nelson Mandela’s release, the state of emergency, the rugby world cup and the resignation of Thabo Mbeki. By making the pixilation process visible, Pelser explores a potential association between the painter’s brushstrokes and the digital photographic technique.

Pelser was born in 1976. She majored in photographic arts at the Rhodes University. She is a lecturer in fine art photography at Wits School of Art, Johannesburg.

Bongi Bengu’s work is from her recent “Emancipation” series in which she develops her themes on women’s rights, slavery, meditation, freedom of expression and the right to education and cultural imperatives. The individual emancipation leads to the freedom we desire to experience in our communities, our land and our continent. A renaissance of rebirth, renewal and freedom of choice.

Bengu was born in Eshowe. She obtained a BA cum Laude from Mount Vern College, Washington DC and an MA from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

Bongi Bengu, 'Speaking from both sides of the Mouth', 2004

Berry Bickle, 'Melancholia 1', 2007-8
Berry Bickle calls her investigations of texts and language ‘rewrites’. She is particularly fascinated by the relationship of texts to history and memory. In her heavily layered works, in which she often prints, scratches, scribbles and even burns fragments of texts into and on a variety of surfaces, Bickle encourages us to reflect on the process of inscription. She draws on the decaying remnants of archival texts, anthologies, colonial travel narratives, family journals and the ubiquitous written messages on scraps of paper that inform our lives.

Bickle was born in 1959 in Zimbabwe. She studied at the Durban Institute of Technology and Rhodes University.

Sokari Douglas Camp’s work observes both the British and Nigerian cultural realities from the perspectives described as ‘outside’. However, she believes that this position helps her to perceive both cultures with great clarity describing her work as being ‘about what’s going on in London’ whilst also celebrating her Kalabari culture. In the past her work has been biting political criticism of the inhumanities perpetrated in the oil producing Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Recently Douglas Camp has been moving away from violent imagery in her work, saying ‘I wanted to get away from violence and I thought by focusing on beautiful things I could change something. Going back to my Adire collection and making very simple flat images I discovered so much about Yoruba culture’. Her more recent works are playful and celebratory sculpture of African textile and fashion as an investigation of identity.

Sokari Douglas Camp CBE was born in 1958 in Buguma, Nigeria to a Kalabari family. She moved to the UK where she studied art, first at the Central School of Art (1980-1983) and then at the Royal College of Art (1983-1986) majoring in Sculpture.

Sokari Douglas Camp, 'Yoruba Ladies', 2008
Helga Kohl’s “Kolmanskop” series are beautiful haunting photographs of the desolate landscape of the Namib Desert. The neglected architectural structures of the former diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop and her attempt to recapture a ‘glorious’ past, belie a complex narrative of man’s greed and exploitation of nature’s resource to the point of depletion.

Helga Kohl was born in Silesia. (1943). She studied the techniques of photography at the Christoph Bath Photo Studio in Munster, Germany.

Bisi Silva, Curator, “ In the Light of Play” is the director/founder of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos and an independent curator. Amongs her projects includes co-curator, Dak’Art Biennale (2006), “Democrazy:Three solo exhibitions and a publication”,(2008). Like a Virgin… Lucy Azubuike & Zanele Muholi, (2009). She is a curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Greece in May 2009.

Carol Brown, Project/Curatorial Consultant. Was formerly Director of the Durban Art Gallery and currently works independently on a number of different international and national projects. She has collaborated with Bisi Silva to bring the exhibition to the Durban Art Gallery as a preview to the Johannesburg Art Fair.

Durban Art Gallery,
Durban 2nd Floor,City Hall,
Anton Lembede Street,
Durban 4001, South Africa

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
9 McEwen Street, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos

Finally I get to South America

Visiting Brazil has been high on my list of things to do before I die. As a Lagosian from the Brazilian quarters, I always had this deep affinity for Brazil and as soon as I was invited by the Prince Claus to Brazil, Argentina and Peru, I cleared my schedule and jumped at the opportunity.

I am travelling with an interesting group of over 20 curators with some artists from Holland, Belgium and Norway invited by the Mondriaan Foundation in association with OCA (Norway) and BAM (Belgium) The Prince Claus Fund has invited 4 of us from regions in which they work - namely myself, Kossi Assou, Togo, Wang Baoju, China and Agung Koerniawan, Indonesia.

The first stop was Sao Paolo. An incredible city of approximately 20million people. I thought Lagos was a megacity but this is really the megacity. It spreads for what seems and is probably miles and miles and miles. The buildings are incredible though i found it slightly suffocating. Whilst skyscrappers do not seem as invasive in New York, the narrow (european style) streets of Sao Paolo made them seem as if they were touching each other. But that minor issue apart, it was one place that I really, really enjoyed for its fusion of cultures, peoples, building, art and more. The restaurants - at least the one we went to - were excellent. As for the art spaces they were huge and impressive. I have rarely seen art centres as big as the ones in Brazil. Unfortunately during our 4 days we didn't see as much contemporary art as we would have liked to as most venues were in between exhibitions. We didn't do any studio visits which is sort of understandable as it would have taken hours to go from one studio to another. Therefore the focus was on institutions and we were able to meet colleagues working at the highest level. My hope is that in the future I will be able to collaborate on curatorial projects in Brazil.

The visits have been incredible intensive and unfortunately i won't have the time to update the blog as I would like. However there is a lot of information available. For the background of the orientation trip and for frequently updated information and pictures about the trip, visit the specially created blog at orientationtrip2009

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Linha Imaginaria Video Art Workshop artists summaries

Linha Imaginaria Video Art Workshop artists' summaries

The 2 week video workshop led by Miguel Petchkovsky, Goddy Leye and Eustaquio Neves was an intense, challenging and rewarding experience for all parties, the workshop leaders, the participating artists and CCA,Lagos the co-ordinators.

Most of these artists are coming to video for the first time although some of them took part in the one minute video workshop in October. The work that they produced in so short a time show that with more time, experience and professional development this medium will become an important and integral part of their artistic repetoire. Most of the artists are coming to video from photography, performance art, sculpture, sound art, graphics and painting and they are interested in finding ways to add this or extend their normal artistic practice. Video art can provide this outlet.

The year long focus on a media which forms part of CCA,Lagos' professional development strategy for artists has gotten off to a really good start with the two workshops, the forthcoming exhibition and also a publication to document our activities. Artists are motivated and Miguel, Goddy and Eustaquio continue to provide the much needed mentorship and stimulus to keep the artists motivated and working. The forthcoming residencies will see most if not all the artists going to some other country to interact, collaborate, exchange and develop their interest in video art. Residencies will be held in Amsterdam, Brazil, Cameroon and we welcome suggestions for other residency centres that can host a Nigerian artists who wants to develop their video work. Anybody with any contacts with Banff Centre in Canada would be nice. ( Couldn't resist sneaking that in). The artists have been sending work to video festivals around the world and are preparing new work for the video section of the Bamako Photography Biennale in Nov 2009.

Below are the summaries of the videos completed. The starting point was looking at the city and the way in which it impacts not only on their individual lives but also the collective psyche. (I still need to find out how to put the videos up somewhere on the internet for public viewing).

Outrage By Lilian Pilaku

This work explores the nature and scope of power supplies and the consequences of failure imposed by neglect in the basic needs of large urban centers and the peripheral communities around the city of Lagos, as well as the consequent impact on individuals. This audio-visual exercise suggests the critical failure of Institutional power to ensure long term sustainability of improvements and questions (metaphorically) all society and the well being of future generations.

My Room (With a View)By Lucy Azubuike

Make-up is an important element of one’s self within. My Feminine self confidence assuming emotional balance as oppose to the constraints of the daily routine. ‘My Room with a View’ is a performative work in which there is a view of myself in relation to and through interaction with the city. Private and public are two opposed notions of space articulated here together.

Dreams [Smaerd] Smeared By Jude Anogwih

2nd prize winner of a residency in Brazil to be facilitated by Eustaquio Neves

The work investigates the anticipations expectations, hopes, aspirations, ambitions of an individual and his/her dreams in the society. The elements interactively aid in determining the realization of these dreams, or the sometimes disappointments. Dreams are imaginary. They are threads that link the real and the imagined (illusive). They are imaginary lines of possibilities influenced by thinking or from bygone activities.

Carbon Blues By Uchay Chima Joel

Uchay was the first prize winner with a residency in Amsterdam being facilitated by Miguel.

Lagos is a city that is well known as being over populated. The masses streaming from diverse background and multiple ethnicities contribute largely to the socio-economic make-up of the city. Like other mega-cities around the world, Lagos is also challenged with environmental degradation and pollution.

Carbon Blue focusing on air pollution depicts what goes un-noticed by some in the atmosphere, in and around Lagos.

Against the Wall By Andrew Esiebo

Against the Wall is a conceptual video which aim at investigating the realities of sexual minorities in Lagos, West African most cosmopolitan city and perceive to be a modern society yet a P-H-O-B-I-A—hunt by different individuals.These pieces comprises of dialogue, interview and sound elements.

Miss-Information By Emeka Ogboh

Miss-information is imprinted in systems of manipulative structures of power. How can we de-construct these forms of imposed mass media knowledge as building blocks of societies in transition?

Red and Me By Jelili Atiku

Mankind is an automated machine. Wrap with fabric of flesh and ignite with a lubricant known as blood- an enormous power to control itself, body, mind, emotion and environment. However in its interactions with the environment and itself, there exist a contradiction or dismal reality.

This performance therefore portrays the consequential effects of the realities- a psychological speculation of actions and reactions. With symbolic contents, it makes a metaphorical statement of the creative impulses of mankind

Momento Moment/s Estaquio Neves

Eustaquio Neves one of the workshop leader had an incredible time in Lagos and said a beautiful thing 'I am home'. He moved around Lagos as if he had visited or lived here in another life. As an African Brazilian this was a special opportunity for him and he collected a lot of material which will be included in his next work. Before leaving we told him his Nigerian names Ikechekwu Adewale Eustaquio Neves.

The Notion of translating/interpreting moments without any pre-conceived idea, represents a major challenge of the un-expected that is wide open to possibilities and imagination. This video incorporates a significant moment in history, public reaction to the projection of Video Art in an unusual space and the improvised performance of a group of fifteen local artists. A deep momento of reflection, contexts and vision.