Sunday, 26 July 2009

Centre for Contemporary Art,Lagos welcomes its first Fulbright Fellow, art historian and artist Antawan Byrd to Lagos.

Antawan Byrd

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is an independent visual art organisation established in 2007 to provide a platform for the development, presentation and discussion of contemporary visual art and culture. We present a diverse programme of exhibitions, workshops, talks and seminars featuring local, continental and international artists, curators, critics and writers.
CCA,Lagos has set up one of the fastest growing independent libraries in Nigeria specialising in the visual arts and critical theory. The library has grown from the initial 500 publications to over 3500 books, catalogues, journals and art videos. It continues to develop as an important learning resource and visual artists archive, a specialised educational facility for writers, artists and students as well as international researchers and other professionals in the cultural sector. The vision is to build it up to be one of the largest and most important art libraries in the West African region. Within this context, in a short period of time the CCA,Lagos has built up an enviable position as the only independent visual art organization to facilitate and affiliate with a renowned international educational initiative such as the Fulbright programme.

The Fulbright is the United States’ most prestigious international educational exchange programme. Under the aegis of the US government, the programme is designed to foster mutual understanding between people of the US and people of other countries all over the world. Since 1946, there have been approximately 294,000 participants in the program: 111,000 from the United States, and 183,000 from other countries. “Fulbrighters” are chosen “for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” J. William Fulbright, a US Senator from Arkansas, conceived the program with the goal of developing knowledge, empathy and leadership between cultures.

Whilst in Lagos, Antawan Byrd’s goal is to engage in a ten-month conversation with the city specifically, and more generally, Nigeria. Byrds says that “Contemporary art, for me, has always been a fruitful field of engagement because of its discursiveness. There is plenty to be said about objects of art, the circumstances underpinning their production, the artists who make them, and the spaces that exhibit them–ranging from formal and museological concerns to the social, cultural and geopolitical.”

During his extended stay, Byrd expects to engage with the art community by fostering relationships with artists, critics, curators, writers, and other cultural workers and is especially keen on interacting with other students of art and art history. He states that, “To me, all of this is an urgent form of research, as the concept of contemporary African art is fraught with complexities and must be broached through intellectual rigor, active engagement and dialogue. This is precisely why my research will be based at CCA,Lagos as, to my knowledge, it is the best institution in Lagos for enabling one to explore the diverse practices of African artists from not only a local purview but also from a continental perspective–and even from an international scope, as the CCA,Lagos offers a platform for international dialogue.” Byrd will contribute directly to the discourse by participating in a research and curatorial internship at CCA,Lagos. His other interests include enriching his Fulbright experience by exploring the Nollywood and AfroBeat cultures.

Antawan Byrd, 22, was born in Washington D.C. He graduated in May 2009 with high honors (magna cum laude) from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where he double-majored (B.A.) in Art History and Digital Media Art. In 2008 he was awarded a Temple Diamond Research Scholarship to pursue research on the aesthetics of contemporary photography. That same year he participated in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Museum Studies Program. Currently, he is a Curatorial Intern at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is conducting research, in preparation for an upcoming exhibition, on the portrayal of Africans in Renaissance art. He has spent six months in Rome, Italy where he supplemented his Renaissance and Baroque coursework with studies in modern and contemporary Italian art. Byrd spent much of his undergraduate studies, both formally and independently, pursuing research on the effects of globalization and transnationality on contemporary African art. His current research interests concerns the significance of archive and memory in postcolonial art production, the uses of collage in contemporary African art, and the aesthetics of new media art. Concerning his long-term future, Byrd plans to pursue a doctoral degree in contemporary art and theory, with an emphasis on exploring the divergent practices within the field of contemporary African art. He is interested in investigating new ways to explore, engage and legitimize the practices of contemporary African artists, those both on the continent and beyond. With this end in mind, he sees himself oscillating between gallery spaces and academic spaces, as both a curator and a professor.

In May 2009 he was awarded a Fulbright Grant to pursue research in contemporary art at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria. His stay begins first week in September.

CCA,Lagos director and curator, Bisi Silva states that;

“It is a privilege that in such a short period of time the role of CCA,Lagos is being widely acknowledged as a potential partner for important research on contemporary art from Africa. My colleagues and I are excited about the depth of critical engagement and collaborative interaction Byrd’s presence will engender. He seems like a committed young scholar and - like his counterparts at CCA,Lagos - part of a new and growing generation of emerging curators to watch. We find it fulfilling to be part of that process and are sure that the visual art community in Lagos and across the country will take full advantage of the possibilities that arise. ”

Saturday, 18 July 2009

LightUpNigeria, The Revolution has begun

But we know that our 'leader' ensconced in their fortress at Aso Rock - headquarters of Democrazy will not realise this if it hit them in the face. But the people of Nigeria are saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. With over 100 million Nigerians repeating the same thing over and over and over again the noise will be so deafening that to ignore it could prove fatal. Finally, it seems that there is one thing that will unite us and that is the struggle to LightUpNigeria. The nation has been thrown into complete darkness bringing untold suffering, death, loss of business, loss of lives, insecurity and destabilising the citizens in their day to day existence.

In today's Punch Newspaper it includes a quote by President Umaru Yar'Adua, saying he was not bothered by criticisms of his approach to governance, 'We will not join hands with those critics, the government will not be distracted by the daily torrent of abuses thrown at its doorstep by those who do not even know the names of their local government areas.' And it is true nobody knows the name of their local government because every individual is his own local government providing water, electricity, refuse management and even repairing roads by themselves or collectively. If we do know them it is for the incessant bogus bills they keep sending and harassing people with and for services never rendered. A clear sign of the level of government we have. A disgraceful set of under-achieving human beings who need to brought to justice and tried for crime against humanity at the Hague. They have killed more people in peace time than many of the wars in Africa have done. Imagine with all the petrodollars providing less than 2000 megawatts to over 120million after spend billions and billions and billions and billions of naira.

So the daily torrent of abuse will continue to be thrown until the government LightsUpNigeria instead of thieving the billions allocated and distributing it to the K4 or K12 or Katsina whatever number they want to call themselves.

Providing electricity is an important part of our fundamental human rights. It is not rocket science, nor a new experiemental technology. Keeping us in darkness is an attempt to take us back to the dark ages. It will be resisted. Nigerians are intelligent, hardworking, go-getting individuals who should be, want to be and will be at the cutting edge of the global society.

Join the revolution at check it out on facebook and twitter, google it on CNN, VoA, BBC, youtube. The revolution will be televised. Are you playing your part?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Curator, Gabi Ngcobo is guest speaker at CCA,Lagos on Sat 22nd July 09

Curator, Gabi Ngcobo

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos has initiated a dynamic platform for visual art and culture since opening its doors in December 2007 engaging with artists, critics, writers, curators and art mangers. CCA,Lagos continues with its aims to build a strong discursive platform by actively encouraging debate and critical discourse that highlights topical issues that affect our society and the world in general. We achieve this by inviting local, African and international guest speakers to talk on a wide range of themes and issues concerning contemporary art and culture. In July 2009 CCA, Lagos continues its public programme with a talk by South African artist and curator Gabi Ngcobo originally schedule for the Like A Virgin... programme.

Date: Saturday 25th July 2009, 2pm – 4pm


Transition has its own constraints, life forms, threatening dynamics and consequences. During transition, the questions “who are we?” alongside “which options among the available ones are the right ones?” tend to figure a lot. In this talk Gabi Ngcobo will underline such questions by focusing on the work of a younger generation of South African artists whose work addresses the shortcomings of sexual identities more especially black South African masculinities. The aim of the talk is to create a dialogue about history (or its absence) that is often troubled, to differing degrees, by the search to find the holy grail of African masculinity.

Gabi Ngcobo is an independent curator, writer and artist from Durban, South Africa. She has worked as Assistant Curator at the South African Gallery and curated Cape Africa Platform’s CAPE 07 bi-annual exhibition where she also worked as Head of Research and was instrumental in initiating Cape’s Young Curator’s Programme. Other exhibitions include Olvida quen soy/ Erase me from who I am co-curated with Elvira Dyangani Ose for CAAM, Canary Islands, Las Palmas 2006, Titled/Untitled, a curatorial collaboration with Cape Town collective Gugulective. She is the co-founder of collaborative platform manje-manje projects (m-mp) whose first project, a group exhibition titled Scratching the Surface Vol.1 took place in Cape Town in 2008. Her writings have been featured in various publications and catalogues including Art South Africa, Art Throb and n.paradoxa.

Ngcobo is the recipient of the Ampersand Foundation (New York) 2007 and Kingston University Curatorial Fellowship (London) 2008. She is a Ford Foundation Fellow at the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York.

This talk is funded by the Commonwealth Foundation.


Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos
9 McEwen Street, Off Queen Street, Sabo,
Opp Methodist Church, Herbert Macaulay St, Lagos.

Telephone 0702 8367106

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Lagos Art Scene is thrown into mourning

Peter Areh, We will always Remember You. R.I.P

On the afternoon of thursday the 2nd of July I sat in the studio of La source du Lion in Casablanca talking to the artist Hassan Darsi whilst he completed a work for a forthcoming solo exhibition. After a week of horrible flu I was feeling well enough to call and talk to a few artists but I thought let me check my mail quickly. The first few were the usual routine stuff. Then i opened that of my colleague and friend Ijeoma Okeke after the usual preamble the last sentence asked if i had heard what happened to Peter Areh early that morning that he had been stabbled and was dead. I screamed Oh my God. Hassan asked if it was bad news but I could only reply Oh my God! Oh my God. I became weak and handed him my laptop which was on my lap and the tears came streaming down uncontrollably. The pain was too much that such a nice person was no more. After several minutes I gained my composure and picked up my computer again to re-read the email just in case i misread it. I stared at the words over and over and over again so that it could sink in. So that I could believe the unbelievable. I caught a few friends on facebook and gmail and the story was confirmed. Luckily my flight for Lagos was that evening. In Lagos more stories of the unfortunate incident was relayed. What a tragedy, what a loss.

I can't remember when I met Peter but it is most likely to have in 2000 when I did my first project in Lagos - a series of talks featuring international guest speakers. But it seems he has always been there. Since my return to Lagos we always meet either at the exhibition opening of his Pendulum Gallery or at other exhibition around Lagos. Peter always seemed elusive - wheeling and dealing - part of the artworld yet apart from it. In 2000 he opened Pendulum Art Gallery and has actively supported a large number of Nigerian artists both young and old through his activities. Although Peter was a serious businessman, his interest in art went beyond making a fast buck to supporting and being a collector and art philanthropist. He supported in many ways several individual artists and artists groups and collectives. He encouraged critical thinking and educational activities and publishing. I really respected his activities.

Before I left for Casablanca I spent 3 days straight in his company - a feat in itself for this busy young man. On one of the days he came to CCA,Lagos because he wanted me to talk to one of his staff who he felt he wasn't get through to and maybe he might listen or understand me better. We later had lunch with his business partner from London on the balcony at CCA. The next day I saw him at the opening of Nnenna Okore's exhibition. Afterwards a group of us all went looking for a bar/restaurant where the guys could watch football. We settled on bogobiri and hung out there till late in the evening talking about the business of art. Peter was always teasing me about being a non-profit organisation and I teased him about being profit orientated. Then we talked about bringing our skills together. In that one evening I learnt so so much about the thinking of the average nigerian collector or art buyer, about the business of art in Nigeria. It was a fascinating exchange. The next day we met again with some friends just to chill out again at Bogobiri and continued talking. That was the longest and closest time I have spent with Peter and I found the learning experience exciting and looked forward to continuing the conversation and hopefully working on a project together when i returned from Casablanca. Alas it was not meant to be. A promising, enterprising, generous, friendly and always smiling young man was wickedly taken from us. I have said it and written it before and I do so again. Peter I will never forget your smiling face. Rest in perfect peace in the bosom of our Lord. May God grant your wife and family the strength to bear the loss.

Sun Re O, Sun Re O Peter.

Bisi Silva

Tributes continue to pour in and many have passed through my mailbox which the writers have not objected to me sharing here.

Na wa oooooo. Peter Areh? My shock at his passing was like that of Michael Jackson's. It is absolutely unbelievable! What would he have been struggling with anybody? Well wetin man no know, God know am. May his soul rest in peace.
Bruce Ugiomoh

As I reflect on the news of Peter's death, I interrogate the concept of violence in Africa and elsewhere. I interrogate violence in Africa because of the multiple dimensions violence has assumed in this continent. Ranging from large scale, collective ethnocidal violence to various forms of organized individual killings and extending to what Appadurai describes as "extreme forms of political violence against civilian population," I get crossed at the rate of the escalation. Although you cannot divorce these kinds of violence from other continents but the contention here is the alarming senselessness which Africa’s own has assumed. I get worried that the terrains of my country are becoming more dangerous with the passing days. Things keep on degenerating without visible attempt by the so called government to address them. As a matter of fact, without being utterly pessimistic here, I have never seen or heard of any assassination case in Nigeria whereby the culprits were ever apprehended. What is actually happening? If you think of any advanced and developed society you can count on Nigerians as one of the most successful groups in any field of human endeavour. But if you come back to Nigeria it would seem as though hell has been let loose. I don’t intend to use this space to cast aspersion on my beloved country but sometimes it makes me think sh*t when I remember the state of things in a country which should be one of the richest countries in the world. Don’t misunderstand me as this write-up comes as a sudden emotional ejaculation to the death of Peter. Yes it’s true one cannot cry over spilled milk but let it be known to the world that the milk was most insensibly and brutally spilled that one cannot help crying out loud. Adieu Peter! Jee nke oma. Okey Nwafor.

from Busayo Lawal memory of Peter Areh

Forever Young

by Renee 'nay' Kristen Kristen
Trapped in the glorious years
within the memory of belief, lost of all grief.
Take the reasons,
which once seemed so clear,
but never mind, you have nothing to fear.
For you my fried will be, forever young,
Forever in the heart of memories.

Lost in the glory of all time,
the wisdom was there within that smile,
You see you could have told us,
there within lies the mystery.

So shed a smile, and grin a tear,
For you my friend, will be,
Forever young, Forever young.
Forever in the heart of memory,
We see not through or misery.
Forever young, forever young.
There's a new angel tonight.


We regret to announce the death of MR PETER DUBEM AREH who was an active foundation member of VASON. The sad event took place on Thursday 2nd of July, 2009.

We wish to condole the family of the deceased and make a donation to them.

A VASON condolence register will be opened at Mydrim Gallery 74B Norman Williams Street, S.W. Ikoyi Lagos from tomorrow, 8th of July, 2009.

Members are kindly requested to send their donations by cheques payable to VISUAL ART SOCIETY OF NIGERIA and forwarded to the Treasurer Mrs. Ogunsanya at Mydrim gallery or to the Executive Secretary (VASON) Mr. Ekpo Udo Udoma.


Ekpo Udo Udoma

Somethings can be left undone.
Some words can be left unsaid.
Some feelings can be left unexpressed
BUT Peter Areh fatally stabbed 3am Thurs 2July 2009 cannot be left UNAPPRECIATED IN NIG ART WORLD!

Oyinke Okoro, the immediate past Chairman SNA Abia State

I first received the sudden sad news of Peter Areh's death from Chuka, then followed by Kunle Adeyemi and Ufuoma Onobrakpeya. And I asked is this for real? Why? Why? Why? At 38, the ex banker and art dealer touched lives within and outside Lagos. To us as SNA he was a patron, a cheerful friend, and philanthropist donating generously when ever we called on him. I met him way back and in Senegal at DAK'ART 2OO6. where we started getting close . I recall the Abeokuta experience too where SNA honoured him with an award he received in person during Mr. Kolade Oshinowo's tenure . We further interracted this year in March with him at Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya's studio in Lagos where we discoursed SNA partnershiping with Pendulum-his gallery . How I wished he lived to fulfil this dream of ours. Our dear artists, gallery owners, and most especially the Society of Nigerian Artists will surely miss him greatly. We pray God to give his family the grece to bear this sudden loss. Amen.

Uwa Usen,National President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA)

Words will fail us all to pour out our heart felt sympathy with the family, friends and colleagues who are thrown into mourning at this time. Untimely, gruesome...what may we say. He will be missed. I only met him last year at ARESUVA, but his actions and activities has gone ahead speaking greatly about him.
Adieu Peter.
I Bisi could collect all these and we can make a memoria publication about him.
Steve Folaranmi

Members of Culture and Creative Art Forum (CCAF) and International Association of Art Critics (AICA Nigeria) equally lend our voices to the gruesome murder of one of the youngest and serious minded art partons and gallery owners in recent time. Peter Areh was almost everywhere where art was being discussed. His gallery had played host to major art events which included exhibition and symposium in celebration of 70th birthday anniversary of Uche Okeke, collaborated with Krydz Ikwuemesi and NGA to organise a Symposium on 20th Century Nigerian Art and exhibition during the 2006 Dak'art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal, participated in ARESUVA in September 2008 and many more that space would not permit here. Nigerian artists, art scholars and art viewing public will surely miss you. We commiserate with your family and we also pray that God will give them the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss your untimely death has caused them. May his genle soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.
Dr. Ademola Azeez
For CCAF & AICA Nigeria

What a sad news!
Who could have done this?
But why Peter Areh?
This is sad
So sad,
really shocking!
What a lost to the arts
and to the nation!

May God grant his family & associates the fortitude
to bear this great lost of a great mind.
May is soul rest in PEACE.

Babasehinde Ademuleya Ph. D
Artist and African Art Historian
Department of Fine & Applied Arts,
Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

This is sad. I could not believe this. you remembered just two weeks ago of the Nigerian match we watched together... how can one explain the uncertainty of human life. This is sad... very difficult to swallow...

It’s a lot concern when we cannot stop and ponder over tragic issue such as the case of Peter Areh, not to purse and think of “our” mortality. It seems to me that we have lost our emotion, our sensitivity to tragedies. We are too quick to forget, and too selfish to care; a worrisome development in Nigeria. No wonder we are no longer moved as we see dead bodies on the street, not touched by accident scenes, not traumatized by tragedies. Someone should help this generation!

PeternAreh’s death came as a shock, more than a shock! I’m yet to recover. Who wants Areh dead? Who benefits from his death? ... it is very sad.

We will remember him for his various contributions to art development in Nigeria and beyond, his determination to promote Nigerian artists internationally, his love for PACA. He was not one of the many parasitic gallery owners/art promoters all over the places. He was humble, simple and amiable, characters that are lacking among many who are gold-diggers in the art sector and who have no respect whatsoever for the artist from whom they earn a living. I miss him dearly.

Ayo Adewunmi

Sorry about Peter Areh, he made a connection, touched one's soul!

My first shock came from a old relation. "Is it true what I am hearing that Peter was stabbed by some assassins or armed robbers late morning? Please can you help confirm?
I have not been so well lately. So I called a few people, and as usual when you really want to get across our darling mobile fone providers would just then say like our leaders, "Not AVAILABLE" Or something as incoherent as that..
So i am in a retreat and praying for Nigeria and for our dear fragile planet that have so many arrogant people.
Our hearts should be with Peter's family. We should cary on from where he left. May his enemies be found. Amen!!

Jerry Buhari

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Celebrating FOUR HUNDRED & NINETEEN POSITIVE attributes of Nigerians & Nigeria

Read this on facebook and looks like a great initiative to reclaim our image not the idiocy 'rebranding nigeria' launched by erstwhile information minister Dora Akinyuli whilst they continue to ferret our commonwealth into Swiss, English and American accounts. But initiatives like this suggest that if 100million nigerians make that individual effort, creating a critical mass, we can beat the govt's shenanigans. Congratulations I am up for it. There must be over FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETEEN nigerian visual artists who can make a visual comment. Let's do it, cos We Can. How about creating an image (no text) photo, sketch, drawing, painting, video, performance, sculpture - whatever celebrating our many positive attributes. Share it with us, on your website, on facebook, around the world.

The many negative experiences of Nigerians at home and abroad have resulted in a detachment, mentally and emotionally from their homeland..

The 419Positive Project is an umbrella for a series of ‘Celebrating Nigeria’ projects strategically designed in response to the negative perceptions of Nigerians & Nigeria, internally and externally..

Our mission is to unearth and spotlight verifiable positive or unique attributes of Nigerians & Nigeria in an attempt to explore what it means ‘to be Nigerian’ and to reorient Nigerians’ mindsets on issues relating to self image, national loyalty and civic pride..

In July 2009, The 419Positive Project will unveil the first phase of her flagship project; a search for positive and unique attributes of Nigerians & Nigeria.. And we’re inviting all Nigerians and all friends of Nigeria to say something positive about Nigerians or Nigeria at

All the attributes you submit will be entered in a vote for the nation’s favourites.. This will serve as a road map for the film team as they travel across Nigeria and Nigerian communities in the Diaspora.. And the best part is this; you may be selected to appear in the documentary with the opportunity to personally introduce your favourite attribute..

We'll be announcing lots of little surprises along the way..

Say Something Positive...

Rosemary A. Ajayi
July 2009

Beating the terrible Lagos floods?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

OPEN CALL: Video Art Exhibition at CCA,Lagos

2008/9 Video Art Workshop
In October 2008 CCA,Lagos ran its first one week video workshop in collaboration with the one minute video art foundation led by the Selby Gildemacher and Heerko van der Kooij. This was followed in January 2009 by a two week workshop developed by Angolan artist Miguel Petchkovsky Linha Imaginaria and co-led by Camerounian artist Goddy Leye and Brazilian artist Eustaquio Neves.

Identity: An Imagined State

Video Art Exhibition

Call for participation

more info and application form at

Following the implementation of two successful video art workshops, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos will be hosting the first video art exhibition in Lagos, taking the form of a three part project to be held in October/November 2009. The exhibition Identity: An Imagined State will cover themes that each takes a different perspective on notions of identity exploring issues of race, citizenship and migration using. The exhibition aims to provide a platform in Lagos for emerging and established video artists.

The exhibition, split into sections listed below will form the curatorial framework for the submission of works.

The first section of the exhibition aims to explore issues relating to race or skin tone and the impact it has made on identity amongst African people (living on the continent). Particular areas of interest relate to those whose racial identity is made up of multi-ethnic backgrounds, the problematic of skin toning (skin lightening) and non-Black Africans. By asking questions such as; can we always tell what race is when we see it? What role does race place in society? How do we negotiate between skin tone and identity?

The second section explores the challenges of political, economic and social predicaments, which have engendered voluntary or forced migratory movements into and out of Africa. The impacts of these actions have resulted in changes such as displacement, deprivation, enhanced economic benefits and psychological transformations.

This project will present a body of work by artists that engage with migration and trans-national pattern of movement in our continuously globalizing world. It will explore the effects and impacts of migration within and out of the continent, highlight issues on memory, identity, displacement, alienation as well as the challenges that arise from cultural and physical separation.

Video artists of African descent or artists of any nationality exploring these themes in relation to Africa are invited to make a submission for either one or both areas of interest. We ask for all videos to be sent in either English or with English subtitles. Submissions should be made in the following manner:

DVD containing maximum 3 works

A Full CV

An Artist Statement

2x still images from the video (minimum 75 dpi)

Completed application form below

Deadline Extended Monday 20th July 2009

more info and application form at

Please note that submitted work cannot be returned and unless indicated otherwise will form part of CCA,Lagos’ visual art library collection used for research and learning purposes only.

Bisi Silva's Art Place

Bisi Silva's Art Place

When the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) opened its doors in 2007 for its first exhibition, ‘Democrazy', a show displaying the works of the trio of artists, Lemi Ghariokwu, Ndidi Dike and George Osodi, it only marked the beginning of a stream of exhibitions and programmes that have brought over twenty five speakers and drawn international collaborations.

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