Friday, 30 April 2010

Symbolic Meetings...

Bisi Silva (left) and Alitash Kebede
I had barely landed in New York after a 24hour journey from Lagos, but somehow I managed to catch a bad bout of flu. However, this did not stop me fighting fatigue ( from my hectic lagos schedule) and jetlag so as to get up early enough the next morning for an impromptu meeting facilitated by Nigerian artist Bright Eke to meet with gallerist Alitash Kebede. Although I had been reading about her and her gallery in Los Angeles for over a decade I was only introduced to her - electronically - by Bright about 12-18months ago. Therefore, not minding the jetlag, I jumped at the opportunity to meet this intriguing woman . I wanted to hear, learn and take pointers from her story. Wasn't that the reason I was in America, to meet as many of the people I had read about and whose careers I had followed for many years, to meet new ones, to engage in interesting dialogues and in the process to learn as much as possible. As the saying goes, life is one continuous education.

With over 20years experience in the gallery business Alitash has so many stories to share and she darted from one incident to the other experience before I could digest the last one. I was trying to digest not only my sumptuous breakfast, but also the information about how she started the gallery , the invaluable mentorship of art historian Dr. Samella Lewis, her longterm professional and personal relationships with African American greats such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden as well as speaking about the pros and cons of how to tour exhibition, possible fundraising strategies for CCA,Lagos. We spoke about the necessity for long term support of artists' careers but also how not to burn out early. Alitash now devotes a lot of her time to programmes that take art to children as well as organising one off cultural events and projects. Our conversation moved back and forth on the lack of cultural infrastructure on the continent, the way we can continue to support the arts and especially nurture younger African artists as well as our irritation at the lack of interest from wealthy Africans to provide meaningful support to the visual arts or any arts for that matter. Wow what an inspiration!

Alitash said she had been following our work at CCA,Lagos and appreciated very much our efforts in a challenging environment. She could not hide her emotion at this fortuitous meeting, leaving me momentarily lost for words. (and thinking we are not on Oprah, are we?) Ah mean this is America! It was an incredible moment spent with such a generous, beautiful woman. As we parted, I felt sad but I know our paths will cross again soon. I couldn't have wished for a sweeter beginning to the journey ahead.

The inaugural ICI touring curatorial conversation series gets rolling

I am really pleased and privileged to have been invited as the first touring curator for Independent Curators International. This new programme hinges on the premise that in addition to circulating objects (exhibitions) there is a need to also add the circulation of ideas and experiences through the works and presentations of curators from a diversity of backgrounds and contexts. On my part it is a welcome initiative which provides the opportunity after a long hiatus (nearly almost 15yrs since my last visit to the USA) to engage with the art community in the US, build networks and explore possibilities for future collaborations.

After what seemed like an interminable journey (17hrs) I arrived at JFK with my flu in full bloom. Yes nature's punishment for nonstop work and non stop travel. The next day I nonetheless jumped into another plane with ICI director Kate Fowle Chicago bound.

I will try and keep the blog updated with the American trip.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A new foundation brings together a stellar African and German photography collection

The Walther Collection opens in June 2010 with "Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity," introducing works from its African collection. Under the curatorial direction of Okwui Enwezor the exhibition comprises a series of four projects filling all nine galleries in the three buildings of the new exhibition space in Burlafingen near Ulm, Southern Germany. It integrates the work of three generations of African artists and photographers with that of modern and contemporary German photography. This combination of African and German works will serve as a model for the kind of curatorial process that animates the character of the collecting program.

Find out more information about the Walther Collection

Read the full public release at e-flux

Friday, 23 April 2010

Nigerians Photographers on the Move Again to Dakar. Invisible Borders 2010

I am always happy when I learn that visual artists or any group of artists are on the move - especially by road - within their region and within Africa. On one hand it is a serious challenge not meant for the fainthearted as they learnt the hard way on their first project Invisible Borders 2009 which took them to the Bamako Biennale. On the other hand it begins to address decades long of divide along arbitrary colonial lines. But more importantly with Africans on the move within their continent, could this be the long march (thanks Madiba) towards a real organic sense of unity.

In 1990 ECOWAS supposedly implemented the Borderless Region Procotol. A worthy initiative which has not been allowed to be turned into reality as going through many of these borders and the countries can be a feat harder than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I know as I have had my oddest experiences trying to cross the border from Lagos to Rep of Benin by car, by okada (yes oh and that wasn't funny at all) and on foot.

As the group embarks on its journey, I wish them easy passage, lots of fun and encounters but most of all I wish them God's Blessings throughout the trip. Oh and some even more interesting pictures than the last time. I know you can all do something extraordinary.

Accompany them through

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Independent Curators International (ICI) initiate their travelling conversation series with Independent curator and CCA,Lagos director Bisi Silva

Independent Curators International is on the move throughout the United States. ICI has organized a traveling conversation series with Nigerian curator Bisi Silva taking place next month in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Texas.

April 29–May 12, 2010

The Curator’s Perspective with Bisi Silva will be moderated by ICI’s executive director Kate Fowle at the New Museum on May 9, 46 pm.

Independent Curators International has developed its first touring curatorial conversation with Bisi Silva, the founder/director of the Center for Contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria. ICI’s program marks the first time that Silva will speak in the U.S., introducing diverse new audiences to her rich and vital practice. The conversation series will explore the growing impact of transnational practice, using Silva’s extensive curatorial experiences across Africa, Asia, and Europe as a starting point for discussion. Through the series, Silva will address the potential for new dynamic forms of exhibition-making and cultural exchange and present her research on artists, as well as respond to questions posed on the subjects of the expansion of curatorial networks and emerging collaborative institutional models around the world.

Throughout May 2010 Silva will participate in a series of public lectures, panel discussions, and conversations across the U.S. Hosting collaborators include Converge Curators Forum, NEXT Art Fair (Chicago, IL); MoCADA (Brooklyn, NY); Museum for African Art (New York, NY); Newark Museum (NJ); New Museum (New York, NY); and The Menil Collection (Houston, TX).

About Bisi Silva

Bisi Silva is an independent curator and the founder/director of the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA, Lagos), which opened in December 2007. She was co-curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Greece, Praxis: Art in Times of Uncertainty (September 2009), as well as Maputo: A tale of One City (February 2009). In 2008 she was co-selector with Portuguese curator Isabel Carlos for the international Artists’ Prize, Artes Mundi 3. In 2007 Silva co-curated Contact Zone: Contemporary Art from West and North Africa at the National Museum of Mali, as well asTelling… Contemporary Finnish photography at the 7th African photography biennale in Bamako. As director of CCA, Lagos, she has curated Fela, Ghariokwu Lemi and The Art of the Album Cover(2007); Ndidi Dike, Waka-into-bondage:The Last ¾ Mile (2008) and George Osodi, Paradise Lost: Revisiting the Niger Delta (2008) as well as ‘Like A Virgin...’, Lucy Azubuike (NIG) and Zanele Muholi (SA) (2009). In 2006 Silva co-curated the Dakar Biennale in Senegal.

Learn more about ICI's traveling conversation series with Bisi Silva here and other ICI programmes

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Art Photography Workshop at CCA,Lagos with Pinar Yolacan 21-23 April 2010

3 day Art Photography Workshop

Wed 21st - Fri 23rd April 2010, 10am -5pm

To coincide with New York based, Turkey artist Pinar Yolaçan’s Maria series photography exhibition, CCA,Lagos will be hosting a three day workshop art photography workshop in which the artist will guide participants in conceiving and/or and realizing work(s) that will go on to be exhibited within the CCA,Lagos library space as part of our Fashion, Art and Identity series.

Workshop Content

The workshop will take as the starting point the methodology used by Pinar Yolaçan to create her conceptual photographic works using clothing and its representation through image. During the workshop Pinar will

  • Do a presentation of her work and the narrative that underpins the work.
  • Discuss her research strategies and methodology highlighting the way to maximum resources available such as internet, fabric stores, libraries, magazines etc.
  • Highlight aspects such as casting, location, props
  • Carry out hands-on lesson to developing ideas based around art, fashion and identity.
  • The results will be developed and form part of an display at the CCA,Lagos library.

Please bring an item of clothing which will form part of your prop

COURSE FEE: N5000 (five thousand naira only)

For more information please contact Oyinda Fakeye at or on 07055680104,


As part of the 3 day workshop, portfolio reviews will take place for workshop participants allowing them to receive objective professional curatorial, critical and artistic feedback.

This will consist of

  • 30 minutes one to one session with each reviewer.
  • Artists' presentation of a body of work and/or work in progress
  • Critical feedback with advice on research, methodology and on presentation skills.
  • Feedback and advice on new possibilities and ways in which the work may be developed.
  • Bisi Silva, Independent curator, writer and director of CCA,Lagos
  • Pinar Yolacan, Conceptual artist working with the media of photography. Current exhibition at CCA,Lagos 17th April - 28th May 2010
  • Antawan Byrd, Art Historian and Writer. Currently US Fulbright Fellow 2009/10 and Curatorial Assistant at CCA,Lagos

Artists' Talk Saturday 24th April 3pm

Our established P.A.G.E.S event which invites artists and writers to discuss work from our exhibitions will be held on the 24th April 2010, featuring a panel that includes; designer Deola Sagoe and writer Odili Ojubuonu in conversation with the artist Pinar Yolaçan. The event will start at 3pm prompt and be followed by light refreshments.

Pinar Yolacan ‘Maria’ has been presented at CCA,Lagos with the support of Arts Collaboratory

Monday, 19 April 2010

Opening of Pinar Yolacan's exhibition at CCA,Lagos on 17th April 2010

(Left) Artists Ato Arinze, Jude Anogwih, (middle) Pinar Yolacan
and Iria Ojeikere, (right) Padma Ugbabe

Guests at the opening of the exhibition. Arch. Kitoye Akinsan-Ibare

Exhibition Organiser Oyinda Fakeye, Artist Pinar Yolacan and CCA,Lagos director Bisi Silva

Artist Pinar Yolacan in front of one of her work.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Pinar Yolacan's photographic series 'Maria' opens at CCA,Lagos today

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

CCA,Lagos is pleased to present the work of Turkish Artist Pinar Yolaçan's 'Maria' series

Pinar Yolaçan ‘Maria’

17th April – 28th of May 2010

“When you put on the clothes of another culture, it changes how you stand,

how you feel, the gestures you make.” Pinar Yolaçan

As part of the year long focus on Photography and Art, Fashion and Identity, CCA,Lagos is pleased to present Turkish artist Pinar Yolaçan’s critically acclaimed series “Maria”, (2007) a stunning collection of 12 stunning life size portrait photographs of African-Brazilian women emerging from stark black backgrounds. Taken over a twelve month period in Itapurica, Bahia, Brazil, Yolaçan’s images are evocative of Old Master portraits, possessing the psychological and emotional immediacy of the Romantic genre. In this series the artist subverts regality by dressing her sitters in elaborate hand sewn couture costumes with trimmings of ‘unusual’ materials such as velvet, satin, tripe, placenta and sheep’s testicles. Through this series Yolaçan engages with issues of beauty, the body, colonialism, and death as a way of broaching the “impermanence of things.”

Artist Bio

Pinar Yolaçan was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1981. She attended London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Chelsea School of Art and Design, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Cooper Union in New York City. She has participated in several international exhibitions including most recently Dress Codes, the 3rd ICP Triennal of Photography, International Centre for Photography, New York, (2009), Tracking Traces KIASMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, (2009) In the light of Play CCA,Lagos at Durban Art Gallery, Durban, and 2nd Johannesburg Art Fair, South Africa (2009), Turkish Realities: Positions in Contemporary Photography from Turkey, Fotografie Forum International Frankfurt, Germany (2008). She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Istanbul, Turkey.

Organised by Oyinda Fakeye, CCA,Lagos Art Project Co-Ordinator

The exhibition launches with a light reception at the CCA,Lagos gallery space on Saturday 17th April, where press and guests will be invited to view the works and meet with the artist Pinar Yolaçan on her first visit to Lagos.

Exhibition Programme

3 day Art Photography Workshop 21st - 23rd April 10am -5pm

To coincide with the programme CCA,Lagos will be hosting a three day workshop art photography workshop in which artist Pinar Yolaçanwill guide participants in conceiving and realizing work(s) that will go on to be displayed within the CCA,Lagos library space as part of the Fashion, Art and Identity series. The workshop will take place from the 21st - 23rd April, 2010. For more information please contact Oyinda Fakeye at or on 07055680104, spaces are limited.

Artists Talk Saturday 24th April 3pm

Our established P.A.G.E.S event which invites artists and writers to discuss work from our exhibitions will be held on the 24th April 2010, featuring a panel that includes; designer Deola Sagoe and writer Odili Ojubuonu in conversation with the artist Pinar Yolaçan. The event will start at 3pm prompt and be followed by light refreshments.

More Information

For More information please contact Oyinda Fakeye at or on 07055680104.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010 Art and the Restitution Question by Artist, Peju Layiwola

Featuring a colloquium and a Travelling Art Exhibition by Peju Layiwola
Date: 8 April-30 May, 2010
Time: 2pm
Colloquium starts at 2.00pm, Exhibition opens at 5pm on the 8th of April
Venue: Main Auditorium Gallery, University of Lagos, Nigeria.

The artist-scholar, Peju Layiwola, a Lecturer in the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos will be showing her recent works in a solo exhibition entitled Art and the Restitution Question at the Main Auditorium gallery of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. The exhibition will be declared open by HRH, Prince Edun Akenzua, the Enogie of Obazuwa. This exhibition comes up to mark the 50th year anniversary of Nigeria.

Make it a date.