Artwork by Victor Ehikhamenor. Isimagodo, 2016. Image © Victor Ehikhamenor
Best of Art in Lagos and Beyond
1st Bi-annual Issue 2016
CULTURAL EXCHANGE OR CULTURE EXPLOITATION? NIGERIAN ARTISTS AT DAK’ART BIENNALE 2016
₦800 | $2
IN CONVERSATION WITH SIMON NJAMI THE RISE OF AFRICAN VOICES
FIRST EDITION 2016 Exclusives from the first half of 2016 and Focus on Art from Nigeria at Dak’art Biennale COVER STORY The Re-enchanted Culture (French/English)
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Bukola Oye
An Overview Of 12th Dak’Art Biennale (French & English)
Ugo Ananaba (CRESCENT7)
PHOTOGRAPHY Ayo Akinwande CONTRIBUTORS Jovonna Jones Erica Famojure Roli Afinotan Enajite Efemuaye Ade Olakiitan Baptiste Madinier Nubi Kay Tony Ola
04. Editor’s note 05. What’s happening 09. Cover
Nigerian Artists At The 12th Dak’Art Biennale
Art Beyond My Border: The Rise Of African Voices 34 Market Report: What Current Auction Reports Say About Art From Nigeria In Global Market Trends43 Opinion: The West vs Africa: Cultural Exchange Or Culture Exploitation? 46
Adolphus Opara: Looking Back
In Conversation With Simon Njami 57 Ingrid Baars On L’Afrique 60
10 Trending Artists And Art Photos On Our Radar In The First Half Of 2016
Lola Åkerström On Travel And Photography 10 Destinations For An Artful Escape
Contact tel:+2348065067506 email@example.com
SAVE THE DATE THE MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AUCTION Monday, 14th November 2016
BEN ENWONWU OBITUN DANCERS 1990 Oil on canvas 40 x 30 in. N 18,000,000-24,000,000 $ 90,000-120,000 Sold for N 52,900,000 ($264,500)
Arthouse Contemporary Auction of Modern and Contemporary Art Monday, November 14, 2016, 6 PM Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria For details contact Nana Sonoiki, Manager, by telephone at 01-774 0909 or 0805 250 0195 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the 1st edition of The Sole Adventurer Magazine! It was a long journey but finally, it is here! And we are proud to present it to you. While the usual path would be to go from online to print, TSA has chosen the path of a digital magazine. This is one step further in our mission to keep up with the dynamic new crop of art lovers in the digital generation and to reaffirm our position as a leading voice on the art scene in Lagos and beyond. Through the well-researched informative features in this issue, we invite you into our local space which has different windows on African art. The magazine focuses on Nigeria’s presence at the 12th edition of Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal. The artists profiled are the five Nigerian artists who featured alongside 60 other international artists present in Dakar. Their works address a varied number of issues and concerns which are peculiar to the African space, as well as global, political, religious, educational, human endurance and unity matters. Look out for our conversation with Simon Njami on “The City in the Blue Day”. At a time when art from Africa is the new cool in popular culture and a big buzz in the art market, we examine the strong demand, skyrocketing prices and dialogues around the representation of African contemporary art. How is it shared, consumed and may be exploited? The big question is who benefits the most from the expanding demand for the continent’s art? We report with great joy that more African voices were present at the last 1:54 Artfair in New York. The conversations at the FORUM were cogent and call for dialogue to steady the rush for the continent’s goldmine. The most recent scramble for Africa’s treasures is Sotheby’s addition of ‘Modern & Contemporary African Art Auction’, starting from 2017, and Art Paris Art Fair’s announcement to welcome “Africa as a guest of honour” at this highly prestigious European art fair. Shall we add a new dinner table for the newcomers? (or perhaps the
latecomers). Now we are wondering, who else is coming to dinner? TEFAF? And what does that mean for African artists, galleries, artists, and collectors? At the last Bonhams auction in London and Arthouse auction in Lagos, Ben Enwonwu again sold at unbelievable prices in a global market where sales are falling. Naturally, we are curious to know who the buyers are but we are more curious to know where the works come from as a large volume of Ben Enwonwu’s works have featured in particularly these auctions’ circles consistently for the last five years. Will Sotheby’s circle the same artists and artworks, or will it become creative and look further to all the exciting work on our continent? In interviews, Adolphus Opara, Ingrid Baars, and Lola Akinmade Åkerström take us through the artistic genre of the moment: photography. We engaged the three photographers on their fields of practice and their diverse approaches to documenting people, religion, the human condition, places and Africanness. Follow the journey of Adolphus Opara as he prepares for a retrospective show, Ingrid Baars on L’Afrique, and Lola Akinmade Åkerström on her travels around the world. As a way to keep up with trends in the art scene, we created ‘Artspotting’ to share trending artworks and artists that appeared on our radar in the first half of this year. Don’t plan your next travel destination until you have seen the list from ‘TravelBay’ headquarters. You can trust them for arty travels anywhere in the world. On behalf of TSA, I would like to thank Arthouse Contemporary, Rele Gallery, Samsung Mobile Nigeria, TravelBay, the contributors and many others who made this first step possible. A big thank you to our TSA subscribers, and to new readers who may encounter TSA for the first time through this issue. Get fired up and enjoy!
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LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL EVENTS UPCOMING | CURRENT EXHIBITIONS Wura-Natasha Ogunji: My Father and I Dance In Outer Space 30th August – 8th September 2016 Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari Tyynenmerenkatu, Helsinki Camera: Darcie Book and Wura-Natasha Ogunji. This work is part of the series Video Guests where Galleria Huuto invites international video works to be shown in Pikkujätkä. More info on http://www.galleriahuuto.net/?lang=en
Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room 22nd June – 18th September 2016 New Museum, New York Conversations and care sessions info on http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/simoneleigh-the-waiting-room
Making & Unmaking 19th June – 18th September 2016 Camden Arts Centre, London Curated by Duro Olowu Artists featured: Caroline Achaintre, Marina Adams, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Anni Albers, Tasha Amini, Hurvin Anderson, Polly Apfelbaum, Tony ArmstrongJones, Emheyo Bahabba, Walead Beshty, Alighiero Boetti, Louise Bourgeois, Carol Bove, Lisa Brice, James Brown, Zoe Buckman, Claude Cahun, Lygia Clark, Céline Condorelli, Tommaso Corvi-Mora, Dossa Z. Cosme, Alexandre da Cunha, Andreas Eriksson, Meredith Frampton, Simon Fujiwara, Anya Gallaccio, Hassan Hajjaj, Sheila Hicks, Donna Huddleston, Diane Itter, Isaac Julien, Neil Kenlock, Fernand Léger, Eric Mack, Peter McDonald, Rodney McMillian, Hamidou Maiga, Ari Marcopoulos, Brice Marden, Wardell Milan, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Wangechi Mutu, Alice Neel, Nobukho Nqaba, Chris Ofili, Horace Ové CBE, Irving Penn, Tal R, Michael Roberts, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Malick Sidibé, Lorna Simpson, Daniel Sinsel, Christiana Soulou, Dorothea Tanning, Henry Taylor, thousand pictures, Bill Traylor, Francis Upritchard, Al Vandenberg, Brent Wadden, Grace Wales Bonner, Rebecca Ward, West African Textiles, Stanley Whitney, Kehinde Wiley, Masaaki Yamada, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. More info on http://www.camdenartscentre.org/whats-on/ view/olowu
Africa Forecast: Fashioning Contemporary Life 15th September – 3rd December 2016 Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta Curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee and Erika Dalya Massaquoi Some of the featured artists: Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Zohra Okopu, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Ayana V. Jackson, Lina Iris Viktor, Nona Faustine and Amy Sherald. More info on http://museum.spelman.edu/upcomingexhibitions/
El Hadjy: At first I thought I was dancing June 16–October 16 2016 Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw More info on http://csw.art.pl/index.php?action=aktualnosci&s2=1&id=1437&lang=eng
El Anatsui: Special Exhibition of Works At Prince Claus Fund Gallery 20th November 2016 – 28th April 2017 Prince Claus Fund, Amsterdam Curated by Bisi Silva The opening on Thursday, 24 November 2016 is part of Amsterdam Art Weekend and is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund. More info on http://princeclausfund.org/en/activities/ prince-claus-fund-exhibition-of-2009-laureate-el-anatsui. html
Yinka Shonibare Special Show At Vlisco ‘Un a Un’ 20th September 2016 – 12th February 2017 Gemeentemuseum Helmond, The Netherlands The exhibition ‘Yinka Shonibare MBE / Paradise Beyond’ features sculptures, installations, collages, drawings, photo works and films from the period 2004-2016. More info on http://www.gemeentemuseumhelmond.nl/ te-zien/2016/yinka-shonibare-vlisco/
Disguise: Masks and Global African Art 29th April – 18th September 2016 Brooklyn Museum, New York Curated by Kevin Dumouchelle, Associate Curator, Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands, Brooklyn Museum. Artists featured: Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou (Benin), Nick Cave (U.S.), Edson Chagas (Angola), Steven Cohen (South Africa/France), Willie Cole (U.S.), Jakob Dwight (U.S.), Hasan and Husain Essop (South Africa), Brendan Fernandes (Kenya/Canada/U.S.), Alejandro Guzman (Puerto Rico), Gerald Machona (Zimbabwe), Nandipha
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Mntambo (South Africa), Jean-Claude Moschetti (France/Benin), Toyin Ojih Odutola (U.S.), Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria), Wura-Natasha Ogunji (U.S./Nigeria), Walter Oltmann (South Africa), Sondra R. Perry (U.S.), Jacolby Satterwhite (U.S.), Paul Anthony Smith (Jamaica/U.S.), Adejoke Tugbiyele (U.S./Nigeria), Iké Udé (U.S./Nigeria), Sam Vernon (U.S.), William Villalongo (U.S.), Zina SaroWiwa (U.S./U.K./Nigeria), and Saya Woolfalk (U.S.). More info on https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/ disguise_masks_global_african_art
Njideka Akunyili Crosby 1st Solo show in Europe 4th October - 5th November 2016 Victoria Miro Gallery II Wharf Road, London More info on http://www.victoria-miro.com/ exhibitions/495/
Making Africa Continent of Contemporary Design 1st October 2016 – 15th January, 2017 Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands Curated by Amelie Klein and Consulting Curator, Okwui Enwezor. Over 120 Artists are featured through “a plethora of works cutting across a wide variety of media, such as the eyewear sculptures by Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, the furniture of Cheick Diallo from Mali and the photography of Mozambican Mário Macilau and Nigerian J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere. It shows the architecture of Francis Kéré, David Adjaye and Kunlé Adeyemi, remarkable cardboard city models by Bodys Isek Kingelez and animation art by Robin Rhode, a South African based in Berlin. All of the works presented are underpinned by a quest to address questions of material culture and everyday aesthetics – in short, questions of design. The objects show that design in Africa is understood on a much more inclusive level than in Western societies – and they are proof that this understanding can produce innovative new approaches to design.” The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Vitra Design Museum, and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It has been previously shown at Vitra Design Museum, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
ART FAIRS | AUCTIONS | BIENNALES Ostrale ‘016, “error: x” 1st July – 25th September 2016 Messe, Dresden More Info on http://www.ostrale.de/en
Parcours Des Mondes 6th - 11th September 2016 Saint-Germain-Des-Pres, Paris A tribal art fair of traditional art objects and artworks from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. More info on http://www.parcours-des-mondes.com/
FNB Joburg Art Fair 9th – 11th September 2016 Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg More info on http://www.fnbjoburgartfair.co.za/
Expo Chicago 22nd – 25th September 2016 Navy Pier, Chicago Discussion on African art >> “The New Global Economy: Contemporary Art from Africa and its Diaspora in the Marketplace” featuring Simon Njami, Kenneth Montague and Yesomi Umolu moderated by Bomi Odufunade, and Kerry James Marshall in conversation with bestselling author Sarah Thornton, among others. More info on http://www.expochicago.com/
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London Edition 6th – 9th October 2016 Somerset House, London More info on http://1-54.com/london/
Art X Lagos 4th - 6th November 2016 More info coming soon on www.thesoleadventurer.com
AKAA - Also Known As Africa 11th – 13th November 2016 Carreau du Temple, Paris More info on http://www.akaafair.com/
Art Basel, Miami 1st – 4th December 2016 Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami More Info on https://www.artbasel.com/miami-beach
More info on http://www.kunsthal.nl/en/exhibitions/makingafrica/
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Lagos Photo Festival Rituals and Performance; Inherent Risk 22nd October – 23rd November 2016 Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos More info on http://www.lagosphotofestival.com/festivalinformation
Modern & Contemporary Art Auction Arthouse Contemporary 14th November 2016 The Wheatbaker Hotel, Lagos More info on http://arthouse-ng.com/
NEWS AFRICA AS GUEST OF HONOUR AT 2017 ART PARIS ART FAIR After Asia, Art Paris Art Fair continues to shed light on new art scenes by inviting Africa as guest of honour to its 2017 art fair. The guest curator for this project is an independent cultural consultant and curator, MarieAnn Yemsi, whose mission is to promote the wealth and rich diversity of contemporary African creativity in all its variety and openness to the world. This will be achieved through a selection of galleries and artists from the African continent and its diaspora. A symposium, a program of video projections and several special projects will broaden this exploration and offer an in-depth vision of the creative fertility and energy of the African continent.
Monochrome Lagos is a unique reflection of the city of Lagos - an exposé of its idiosyncrasies and aesthetics. The images expose the beauty in Lagos’ forms, lines, patterns, and textures, by stripping the city of its vibrant colours. Monochrome Lagos has gained a widespread following on Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Selected images from the series have shown in the following exhibitions; It’s Also A Solo Journey at News of the World gallery in London during his residency at Futures Assembly, Dey Your lane at Bozar in Brussels, Find Us On The Map at Rush Art gallery in New York, and in Lagos at Lagos: Hustle and Hope at Rele Gallery, Down The Rabbit Hole at Alara and it is currently showing in the exhibition Call/Response at Art Clip Africa. The book is set to launch in the first week of September 2016 to mark its fourth anniversary. Logo Oluwamuyiwa is a young photographer and filmmaker based in Lagos. His works are produced predominantly in black and white. Compiled by Tony Ola
Art Paris Art Fair will hold from 30th March to 2nd April 2017 at Grand Palais in Paris. Galleries representing artists from the African continent and its Diaspora are invited to participate. Applications are now open until 7th October 2016. For further enquiry contact Béatrice Campillo, Exhibitor Relations Manager, T +33 (0)1 56 26 52 12 / email@example.com PHOTOGRAPHER, LOGO ‘LOGOR’ OLUWAMUYIWA, SET TO LAUNCH MONOCHROME LAGOS PHOTO BOOK. After four years of documenting the people, structure and the aesthetics of Lagos, Logo ‘Logor’ Oluwamuyiwa is set to launch a poetic book on his digital archive Monochrome Lagos. Ahead of the book launch, the artist has created a stand-alone website - www.monochromelagos.com for the long running project.
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THE RE-ENCHANTED CULTURE
AN OVERVIEW OF 12TH DAK’ART BIENNALE par Baptiste Madinier translation by Tidiane Sy
In the land of Senghor, where the national cultural policy is often criticized by the players in the art scene, the Dak’Art biennial serves Dakar with an opportunity to remain at the centre of discourse on African culture. International professionals from the art world return every two years to see what is happening on the continent and to participate in the events. Though the amount of artists featured is expanding, the biennale remains the preserve of an elite group and still subjected to organizational challenges. Dans le pays de Senghor, où la politique culturelle nationale actuelle est souvent pointée du doigt par les acteurs du monde de l’art, la Biennale est l’occasion de faire de Dakar un haut lieu de la culture africaine. Les manifestations artistiques pullulent avec l’exposition internationale en figure de proue. La qualité artistique est au rendez-vous mais la Biennale reste l’apanage d’une élite et demeure soumise à des problèmes d’organisation criants. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
At the international exhibition, the main visitor’s highlight was the venue which used to be an old courthouse that was transformed into a “City in the Blue Day”. When the visitor crosses the imposing gates, repainted in the colors of the sky, which is a sky blue, he or she enters the realm of “Reenchantment”, about which Senghor dreamed while he was deep in his cell in Amiens camp in 1940, when he wrote, “To the Guélowar”. These were also the last lines of the poem that welcomed visitors who hoped for a republic and independence, and fought for equality and togetherness in the early days of postcolonial Senegal. Within those walls, the sixty-six exhibiting international artists re-awakened the dream of Senghor to redirect the freed African continent, a continent currently on the edge of reinventing itself. Enchanting Places The first encounter of re-enchantments was the revival of the old gigantic court building delivered from abandonment and disrepair. There was a general belief that the building harbored evil. The
A l’exposition internationale, rendez-vous phare de la Biennale, ce n’est plus dans l’ancien tribunal de Dakar qu’on pénètre mais dans « la Cité dans le jour bleu ». Lorsqu’on franchit les imposantes portes repeintes aux couleurs du ciel, on entre dans le royaume du « réenchantement », celui dont Senghor rêvait du fin fond de sa cellule du camp d’Amiens en 1940, lorsqu’il a écrit Au Guélowar. Ce sont d’ailleurs les derniers vers du poème qui accueillent le visiteur, ceux qui espéraient la République et l’indépendance, ceux qui magnifiaient l’égalité et la fraternité. Aujourd’hui c’est aux soixante-six artistes exposants dans ces lieux d’exalter de nouveau le rêve de Senghor, de sublimer le continent africain libéré, de réinventer l’Afrique. Enchantement des lieux Le premier des réenchantements passe par la renaissance de l’ancien tribunal, gigantesque bâtisse livrée à elle-même depuis que les mains de la justice avaient déménagé. Le lifting a été formidable, les dossiers laissés tel quels, la poussière suintant par tous les portes du bâtiment ont disparu pour laisser
Mouna Karray, Tunisia
Nobody Will Talk About Us(Series) 2012 -2015 Photography | Re-enchantment, Dak’Art 2016
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Aida Muluneh, Ethiopia
Local Understanding, The World Is Nine Collection, 2016 Photography. | Re-enchantment, Dak’Art 2016
facelift was simple but a great feat considering the state of the abandonment. The dust oozing unsafe building completely disappeared, only to be replaced by a huge playground for exhibitors. Through the open court area at the center of the building, the sun comes into the hall illuminating the works with direct sky light. If there was anything disappointing, it would be the rude dressage of certain walls in shocking white that reminds one of local hospital walls. However, from what we gathered, the setup and presentation were fantastic for the artists as
place à un énorme terrain de jeu pour les exposants. Un puit de lumière au centre de la grande salle permet d’irradier les œuvres de l’éclairage du soleil. Si on peut regretter le dressage grossier de certaines parois blanches immaculées qui rappellent l’hôpital, le cadre n’en demeure pas moins fantastique pour l’artiste autant que pour le spectateur. Dans ce nouveau temple éphémère de l’art contemporain, la diversité des œuvres est importante et on traverse les ambiances comme The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Fabrice Monteiro, Benin
(P)residant. This Is Not A Phoenix, 2016 Mixed Media Installation. | Re-enchantment, Dakâ€™Art 2016
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HĂŠla Ammar, Tunisia
Purification(series), 2010 Digital Photography | Re-enchantment, Dakâ€™Art 2016 The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
much as it was for the audience. In that new ephemeral temple of contemporary art, the diversity of the works were visible and with different ambiances and mood. The most staggering were rooms with the installation (P)residant. This Is Not A Phoenix by Fabrice Monteiro, Victor Ehikhamenor’s The Prayer Room, Kader Attia’s The Endless Rhizomes of Revolution, a disruptive room of Bili Bidjocka’s Last Supper: “Do not take it, do not eat it, this is not my body…, and Maqam the overwhelming city built with found objects by Youssef Limoud, winner of the Senghor grand prize at the opening ceremony. The excitement came in all forms; some could easily be missed but most of the works had magic for everyone to find. A Boon for the Visibility of Artists Diversity was a visible winning strategy at Dak’art 2016. With over 200 off exhibitions and events, it would have been difficult to find anyone who did not like one of the programs. Unselected Senegalese artists took the Off Programs as an opportunity to show their work in separate exhibitions. Less known important players were also spotlighted, such as Seni Awa Camara, a Casamance artist whose works were exhibited at the OFF Kemboury Gallery show. The phenomenal potter, now in her 70s, is a major Senegalese artist but unknown to many in the art scene of the country. Living deep in her native town called Casamance, art critic, Massamba Mbaye describes “[her] work as the result of dialogues with beings that populate a fantasy world.”
un bipolaire change d’humeur. On passe de la salle psychédélique imaginée par un nigérien, à la forêt d’arbres d’acier de l’algérien Kader Attia ou encore de la révolution et des gravas de la salle A à l’installation intrigante toute de terre et de bois de l’Egyptien Youssef Limoud, lauréat du prix Senghor. Le réenchantement prend toutes les formes, certaines nous échappent mais heureusement la multitude d’œuvres proposées promet à tout le monde d’y trouver son compte. Une aubaine pour la visibilité des artistes La diversité est d’ailleurs le propre de la Biennale des Arts de Dakar, avec plus de 200 expositions en OFF. Il est difficile de trouver quelqu’un qui ne trouve rien à son goût. Les artistes sénégalais non sélectionnés en profitent pour se faire connaître et pour montrer leur travail. C’est aussi l’occasion de faire la lumière sur certaines figures comme par exemple celle de Seyni Awa Camara, artiste casamançaise mise à l’honneur en OFF à la Galerie Kemboury. Cette potière de plus de 70 ans est une artiste majeure sénégalaise pourtant méconnue dans le paysage culturel de son propre pays. Vivant au fond de sa Casamance natale, « son inspiration est le fruit de son dialogue avec ces êtres qui peuplent son univers fantasmagorique » écrit le critique d’art Massamba Mbaye. En regardant les sculptures à formes humaines ou les bestiaires de l’artiste, on veut bien croire qu’ils proviennent d’une imagination, d’un univers qui nous échappe. Tout droit sortis d’un dessin animé de Hayao Miyazaki, ces petits personnages rappellent des femmes enceintes avec toute leur progéniture greffée sur le corps, des « lapin-garous » ou encore des sphinx aux oreilles de chats. Tout l’enjeu de cette exposition est de sauver le travail d’une artiste trop méconnue dans son propre pays. « Seyni c’est cette petite casamançaise qui fait 1m30, de presque 77 ans, qui a fait un travail que son pays ne reconnaît pas, qui a fait un travail qui n’est dans aucun musée, qui a fait un travail qui va échapper à nos enfants », s’alarme la cinéaste Fatou Kandé Senghor, auteur d’un documentaire sur le personnage. C’est l’Etat qui est ici invité à intervenir pour sauver ce patrimoine artistique et humain. Savoir s’il va agir est une autre histoire.
A look at the sculpted human forms or bestiaries created by Seni Awa shows that they were objects of imagination, a universe that escapes the uninitiated. As if they were straight out of a cartoon like that of Hayao Miyazaki, these sculpted characters are reminiscent of pregnant women with their offsprings grafted onto their body. They looked like “rabbit werewolves” or something close to a sphinx cat ears. The purpose of that exhibition was to show the work of an artist that little was known about her in her own country. “Seyni is this little Casamance woman who is 1.30meters tall, almost 77, who did a job that her country does not recognize, who has a great body of work that is not in any museum and has Une politique culturelle sénégalaise chancelante done a job that will likely escape our children”, says L’effet écran de la Biennale ne doit pas faire oublier The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
an alarmed Fatou Kande Senghor, filmmaker, and author of a documentary on Seni Awa Camara. With this exhibition, the biennale became an intervention hub saving the artistic and human heritage that was the potter. An Unsteady Senegalese Cultural Policy As Dak’Art unfolded merrily, one forgets the challenges and struggles of the biennale organization and the cultural policy in Senegal. Plans by the government on the arts and culture sector are being challenged vehemently by many community stakeholders. Maguèye Kasse, emeritus professor at Dakar University said during a meeting on the first Festival of Negro Arts, that “since Senghor, we have no ministry of culture. Culture is no longer a major concern in the development strategies of the country.” Mbaye Babacar Diouf selected for the international exhibition also highlighted the need to review the cultural policy in Senegal. He called for “the arts to have a school worthy of the name.” His colleague, Aichatou Dieng, visual artist and participants in numerous exhibitions abroad, shares in the same opinion: “If the minister had made efforts, we would feel stronger and more recognized.” The Art of Living Together However, this did not affect the general experience of the biennale. Artists from around the world dominated the scenes, visitors and locals forgot the political and economic issues to focus on the real purpose of the event, which was art. Looking back into the old courthouse, one could say that the mystery of contemporary art is to think that we could have done the same thing without being able to explain why we have not done it before. Being genius is not just to have the idea. As highlighted in the words of Simon Njami the biennale’s artistic director, displayed at the entrance, the artists are “alchemists” who “mastering the parallel forces of an invisible world, hold the magical power of enchantment that goes with the human desire to exist in one’s body and explore other horizons.” The horizons were endless at the international exhibition but we could still notice a recurring concern for living together through certain works. For instance, the installation Fragments from the City by Nigerian artist Abdulrazaq Awofeso presented a hundred characters carved in wood pallets used as a metaphor for migration and integration. Playing on
la politique culturelle très contestée qui règne au Sénégal. L’action de l’Etat pour le secteur culturel est remise en cause de façon véhémente par beaucoup des acteurs du milieu. Ainsi, Maguèye Kassé, émérite professeur à l’université de Dakar déclarait lors d’une rencontre autour du premier Festival des Arts Nègres, que « depuis Senghor, nous n’avons plus de ministère de la culture. Elle (la culture) n’est plus l’une des préoccupations majeures dans les stratégies de développement du pays ». Il n’est pas le seul à crier dans le vent. L’artiste Mbaye Babacar Diouf, sélectionné pour l’exposition internationale soulignait aussi qu’il fallait revoir la politique culturelle, et il appelait à « avoir une école des arts digne de ce nom ». Sa consœur, Aichatou Dieng, artiste plasticienne, auteure de nombreuses expositions à l’étranger, partageait la même opinion : « Si le ministre avait fait des efforts, on aurait vraiment été plus forts, plus reconnus ». La Biennale est donc une occasion sans pareille pour l’Etat de manifester son engouement et son implication dans le monde culturel. Lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture, Macky Sall, président de la République, a ainsi promis 500 millions de F CFA pour combler les déficits d’organisation et il a déclaré qu’il fallait « interroger sans concession nos pratiques habituelles, prendre la mesure des ruptures nécessaires ». La rupture qu’il a laissé entendre serait déjà une plus grande implication du privé dans l’organisation de la Biennale … sujet d’inquiétude. De plus ses grands discours sur la culture ont été ternis par l’absence des artistes sélectionnés pour la Biennale. Soucis d’organisation trop récurrents au Sénégal : sur les quatre plasticiens récompensés lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture, un seul était présent pour recevoir son prix. L’art du vivre ensemble Toutefois, ce triste constat n’affecte en rien la qualité artistique de la Biennale. Les artistes venus du monde entier subliment l’Afrique et font oublier les superficialités politiques et économiques pour recentrer le débat sur le vrai sujet de cette manifestation majeure : l’art. En déambulant dans l’ancien palais de justice, lieu de l’exposition internationale, on se dit que le mystère de l’art contemporain est de se dire qu’on aurait pu faire la même chose sans pouvoir s’expliquer pourquoi on ne l’a pas fait. Le génie est d’avoir l’idée. Comme le souligne le texte du camerounais Simon Njami, The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
representations of diverse religions, it also boasts of interreligious dialogue. In the carved wood installation, there were persons that resemble a Jew, another a Christian, and another with an ensemble of a religion in South Africa. Awofeso’s Fragments was not the only installation that touched on these subjects. Further down in the same hall, Henri Sagna presented checkered mosques and churches thus calling for a Christian-Muslim dialogue. Nigerian-US artist Akirash Akindiya also proposed the need for peace in Portraits. The installation represented people from all over the world connected as one above a single globe. That was Akirash’s vision for the universe. Similarly, the six hundred pieces Encyclopedia installation by Ndoye Douts aimed at calling all to live together. It had newspaper clippings from around the world, designs, messages, poems, and more showing news of Africa in the media and her exposure to the world. Placed right at the entrance, the work on a blue background, a color meant to give hope aptly connects with the theme of the exhibition. While most people wait for a political awakening in Africa, it is safe to say that at a cultural level, the reenchantment is already there, “the blue day” dreamt by Senghor is not so far away.
exposé à l’entrée, les artistes sont des « alchimistes » qui « maitrisent les forces parallèles d’un monde invisible », c’est ainsi qu’ils « détiennent le pouvoir magique de l’enchantement » qui va de pair avec le « désir humain de sortir de soi-même pour explorer d’autres horizons ». Les horizons sont infinis à l’exposition internationale mais on peut quand même noter une récurrence du souci du vivre-ensemble à travers certaines œuvres. L’installation Fragments from the city du nigérian Abdulrazaq Awofeso propose un rassemblent d’une centaine de personnages taillés dans des palettes de bois. Une métaphore du mouvement nous explique l’artiste mais aussi de « l’intégration des gens ». En jouant sur les représentations des différentes religions, il vante aussi le dialogue interreligieux. Dans la foule, on distingue une personne qu’on apparente à un juif, une autre à un chrétien, une autre à un religieux d’Afrique du sud. Il n’est pas le seul à travailler sur ce thème. Plus loin dans la salle, Henri Sagna (voir portrait ci-contre) expose son damier de mosquées et d’églises appelant au dialogue islamo-chrétien. Le nigérian Akirash Akindiya propose aussi « un échange universel » via son œuvre Portraits, qui occupe une salle entière. Des dispositives du monde entier sont réunies dans une seule toile et devraient être projetées sur le sol, le tout sous le regard « des yeux du monde », c’est-à-dire, la vision de tout à chacun sur cette universalité. De même, les six cents pièces que le sénégalais Ndoye Douts a juxtaposées pour former une seule œuvre symbolisent aussi un appel au vivre-ensemble. Des coupures de journaux du monde entier, des dessins, des messages, des poèmes, s’entrechoquent ou se mélangent, partageant ainsi une perspective africaine et une ouverture sur le monde. Placée à l’entrée, l’œuvre a été faite sur fond bleu, une couleur « pour donner de l’espoir à ce monde où maintenant on a peur de tout, on ne sait plus où aller » selon l’artiste. Si on attend encore un réveil politique, au niveau culturel, le réenchantement est là, « le jour bleu » de Senghor n’est plus si loin.
Original article in French by Baptiste Madinier, translated by Tidiane Sy. Baptiste Madinier is a young French journalist working at Le Quotidien, a national Senegalese newspaper. He works with the news platform for an opportunity to discover Sénégal, understudy journalism in the country and also report the Dak’Art Biennale. He is passionate about sport, cinema, and culture. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
NIGERIAN ARTISTS AT THE 12TH DAK’ART BIENNALE by Roli Afinotan
Dakar Biennale is Africa’s longest running grand art event, although it started as a small gathering of literary writers and visual artists in Dakar in 1990 and 1992, now, it opens its door to other African artists and non-African nationals for exhibitions and other culture-oriented events. The 12th edition of the art festival, curated by French acclaimed Curator Simon Njami, included 65 artists across the African continent as well as African Diaspora countries such as France, Italy, and the Unites States. With recent hype surrounding the
contemporary art scene in some African countries like Ghana, and Nigeria, it is, therefore, no surprise that five Nigerian artists - Modupeola Fadugba, Victor Ehikhamenor, Folakunle Oshun, Abdulrazaq Awofeso, and Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya - were selected to feature in this edition. Akirash however, represented the United States of America. All the five artists were featured in Re-enchantment the special and main exhibition of the biennale theme “The City In The Blue Daylight” The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Exploring The Rubik
Modupeola Fadugba Who would ever imagine one’s self inside a Rubik cube as a way to engage the narrative of an art installation? Modupeola Fadugba has not only imagined herself in it but has created one - a giant size Rubik capable of housing not just one person, but a number of people at a time.
has gained international attention and recognition for her innovative interactive installation ‘The People’s Algorithm’, which was produced in 2014, for the National Art Competition by African Artists’ Foundation in Nigeria. This installation was also selected and shown at the 12th Dak’Art Biennale.
Modupeola is a Togo-born Nigerian artist with many sides. This self-taught artist holds an M.Ed , from the Harvard Graduate School of Education after she had received a B.A degree in Chemical Engineering and M.A in Economics from the University of Delaware. She is passionate about issues of social justice, education, women empowerment which she explores through her works. A fast rising artist in the Nigerian contemporary art scene, Modupeola
Modupeola describes ‘The People’s Algorithm’ as an interactive game installation that examines various challenges in the Nigerian educational sector, spanning from primary school enrollment, and mass examination failure to the rising unemployment crisis. The viewer walks into a larger than life Rubik’s Cube, with a game board on the floor and a series of libraries on the wall. In the game, you pick a role, roll a preferred dice and flip coins. This could reflect The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
the everyday challenge of the average student in the Nigerian educational system depending on the role you play. You essentially rely on luck to get you successfully through school amidst financial difficulties, security challenges and university strikes. It is perhaps a little simplistic and maybe childlike in its approach but the creation of the game is essentially Modupeola’s way of framing a complex concept artistically.
Modupeola is pleased to have received the award as she considers it a huge vote of confidence for an artist to be honoured in this way. Furthermore, she thinks cash prizes go a long way in supporting future works. Most importantly, she believes the work has received recognition largely because its subject matter is focused on inequality in the educational system in Nigeria, which is deserving of attention and recognition.
Modupeola’s work was well-received considering ‘The People’s Algorithm’ won one of the four grand prizes of the Dak’art Biennale from the Senegalese Minister of Culture and Communications for CFA 5,000,000 which amounts to $8,500. However, she tells us that the Senegalese President, Macky Sall accepted the award on her behalf. She’s not entirely proud of her absence at the ceremony, though one must admit it sounds somewhat comical when you realize that she was not the only artist who missed the award presentation at the official opening event.
There is no doubt that Modupeola is a promising artist quickly gaining recognition for not just her distinct works but as a prolific artist too. In 2015, she was one of the female artists selected alongside 7 others from around Africa to participate in the ‘Female Artists’ Platform Exhibition – Design is the Personality of an Idea’, organized by the African Artists’ Foundation. Modupe’s works are found in over 60 private collections worldwide. She has had select exhibitions including group shows like the Red Door Gallery/Art Energy exhibition in London, as well as a solo exhibition in Arusha, Tanzania and at the Light House in Dakar, Senegal. Her works are frequently included at the Art House Contemporary Auction, Lagos and she made the first appearance at Bonhams Africa Now auction in May of 2016.
This was not the first prize awarded to ‘The People’s Algorithm’. In 2014, Modupeola won the El Anatsui’s Outstanding Production Award at the National Art Competition. On several accounts,
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
An Answer To The Jollof Riddle?
Folakunle Oshun Every now and then, Jollof rice is a trending issue on social media. One which could easily be mistaken for a case of National security as the controversy surrounding the issue of Jollof rice is either who cooks it better or where it originated from. Despite the banter enveloping this, the cultural significance of Jollof cannot be ignored as it has journeyed through countries and continents and is one dish Africans claim as “our own” notwithstanding. ‘Jollof Wars’ have been so serious, pop star, Keri Hilson tried to weigh in on the issue to no avail. Jamie Oliver, a British celebrity chef got a taste of African unity on social media for (Mis)interpreting a Ghanaian Jollof rice recipe. It is this conundrum Folakunle Oshun tried to demystify with his installation, ‘United Nations of Jollof’ which was featured at the Dak’art
Biennale main exhibition. Here, Folakunle suggests an imaginary reality that opposes post-colonial peacekeeping efforts in the West African region and in sub-Saharan Africa at large. The installation juxtaposes the United Nations of Jollof as an equivalent to the United Nations peacekeeping forces made up of 15 small blue pots representing the ECOWAS member countries. They are placed upside down in a military formation bearing characteristics similar to the United Nation peacekeeping forces. With this installation, Folakunle insinuates that Africa can solve its own problems without vested external interests and manipulation. The ‘United Nations of The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Jollof’ is a sub-part of a bigger installation – Wolof/ Jollof - his first solo exhibition, curated by Ines Valle. This was first exhibited in December 2015, at the National Museum in Lagos.
studio in 2014, to serve as a project space and gallery for younger artists, further expanding it to accommodate work for solo and group exhibitions as well other art inclined events. In 2015, he got a 3-month curatorial residency. This was put together Folakunle Oshun is a Lagos-based sculptor and by the Goethe Institut Lagos, SAAVY Contemporary, curator with a vision to stage artistic interventions Ziku, and Gallery wedding. in curatorial mind spaces, serving as a mediator in the contextualization of art. With art, he strives to The methodological approach in his works can be explore and express contemporary realities without described as experimental as one of the installations relying on a particular medium. His primary medium, at the Wollof/Jolof exhibited in December had an sculpture, steers him to explore forms in dimensions interesting set up of seven local pots made from cast other than the tangible in order to appeal to the iron mounted on wheels like a wheelchair. On the alternative spheres of the human senses. With his pots were inscribed names of different countries. works, he touches on socio-political issues as can In the midst of these pots was a humongous pot be seen with the ‘United Nations of Jollof’, without fashioned in the same manner; one a child could the burden of being attached to specific artistic refer to as a mother pot to the others that stood labels. around it. In 2007, Folakunle received a B.A. degree in Visual Starting out with such remarkable installation for a History and in 2012, an M.A in Art History; both solo, we wait to see what next Folakunle will pull off. degrees from the University of Lagos. In line with his He is definitely one to keep an eye on. vision for artistic intervention, he opened his Lagos
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Lines, Spaces And Veneration
Victor Ehikhamenor There is a photo online with more than 200 likes on Facebook. It shows the artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, high above ground, painting a design on the body of an elevated caravan with lines. Anyone familiar with Victor’s work will attest to the characterization of his style with lines and shapes, which he describes as a completely meditative process. His method is one mastered from years of compulsive drawing since he was 5 years old. He drew on anything he found suitable and permissible to his drawing tools – papers, boards, walls, such that he has perfected the art of drawing on different surfaces, playing with textures (such as boards, walls, papers) and techniques as his inspiration leads. Victor’s technique is phenomenal and detailed, relying heavily on patterns and repetition, using lines and colours.
Born in 1970, in Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State Nigeria, Victor does not hide his affection for his hometown, which has gone a long way to inspire some of his works and art processes. He makes reference to his village whenever the opportunity arises. He draws influences from traditional African motifs and religious cosmology. One of his works, titled ‘’Before They Leave Series” was done in his village. Having lived outside the country for a while, he carried memories from home which helped shape his career and was always sad to learn of a lost relative. So, he decided to freeze and preserve these memories in a frame by taking pictures of his loved ones in his hometown while they were still alive. Yes, Victor Ehikhamenor is a The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
photographer too. However, his exhibition at the In addition to being a visual artist, Victor is a writer. Dak’Art Biennale was something much more. To this, he has a collection of poems titled ‘Sordid Rituals’ and a satirical prose – ‘Excuse Me’. Victor’s installation at the Biennale is titled “The Prayer Room”. This installation is site-specific, To describe Victor as a multi-talented artist would comprising of drawings, mirror, light and sculpted be playing modest, as he is also visionary. Victor canvas. He drew on the walls, floor and ceiling, hung has translated his works in various media. In 2013, four sculpted canvases on three sides of the wall Victor worked with a Nigerian fashion designer, and a concave mirror on the opposite wall. Victor Ituen Basi, in an innovative collaboration where Basi recreated “Okoughleh” an elder’s communal room, incorporated Victor’s paintings onto her fabric and where people go with a burden and pray to leave with designs, labeled ‘The Ekemini Collection’. This was hope. ‘‘The Prayer Room’ is a place where people shown at the 2013 ‘Music Meets Runway’. Known can feel the art immediately, not one you necessarily celebrities and on-air personalities like Betty Irabor, need an artistic eye to appreciate. It is an enchanted Eku Edewor, and Stephanie Coker have been sighted room that brings calmness and self-reflection. strutting this collection. Being his first time at the biennale, Victor expresses his delight at being featured with a proverb his mother had told him, “It is sweet to hear one’s name in a good song.”
Victor is also famous for designing numerous book covers and editorials for authors like Chimamanda Adichie, Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe, Igoni Barrett, Efe Paul among others. His most recently finished work, Wealth of Nations (II) is currently showing at the Ostrale 2016 exhibition in Dresden, Germany. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Of Wood Carvings And People In The City
Abdulrazaq Awofeso Anyone at the sight of Awofeso’s delicately carved figurines will no doubt be intrigued at a glance. More so children who like their toys to be as real as possible and colourful too, but these are not toys or mere figurines. Abdulrazaq Awofeso’s ‘Fragments from the City’ could pass for a wonderland no doubt, but you would not find Alice there. Abdulrazaq’s exhibition indicates something else. His sculptures stand vertical and in such closeness to each other like soldiers. His work explores the fragility of religion from a paradoxical approach. They stand as if in contrition yet aloof of the presence of the other, showing signs of broken camaraderie. Abdulrazaq’s work readily brings to mind, Marx’s theory on religion, where he described religion as the opium of the masses.
Not just religion, Abdulrazaq’s piece of art could also be interpreted as being characteristic of present-day metropolitan living, the ever increasing population despite the existing claustrophobic and minute space. He effectively shows the complexity of human interaction in the society. Despite the seeming connotation of conflict in his work, Abdulrazaq says our differences should not separate us rather this work should be seen as a peace offering. ‘Fragments of the City’ was first produced in 2011, for a solo exhibition at the Goethemain project space in Johannesburg and then at a group exhibition titled ‘Zoo at the Constitution Hill”in Johannesburg. In 2012, it was featured as a solo presentation at the Fred London Gallery (New Arts Project). It would later The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
be included in a 3-man exhibition in 2014 to open the new Sulger-buel Lovell gallery, London. Since then it has quickly gained attention from around the world which has led to its sojourn at the 12th edition of the Dak’art Biennale festival. Abdulrazaq base his methodology on constructivism. The carved figures are made from discarded wooden pallets and paper picked from the city. He conveys the inter-relationship between various social institutions - religious, economic and political – which largely influences the outcome of city living. Abdulrazaq Awofeso was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He has a diploma in General Arts from Yaba College of Technology in Lagos, Nigeria. Abdulrazaq was
awarded the first Goethe Institute Johannesburg art competition which formed the crowning point of his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg. In general practice, he explores the formal aspects of art such as space, line, shapes, colours, textures, and form. The strong contrast between these elements is what gives his work great appeal. He also values his freedom to express himself artistically. “Being limited is what I have always resented as an artist. I strive to be free, thus reflective in my work.” Abdulrazaq described his exhibition at the biennale as well received, an outcome that makes him happy.
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Olaniyi ‘Akirash’ Akindiya Popularly known as ‘Akirash’, Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya is a mixed media and interdisciplinary artist born in Lagos. He relies on various mediums necessary to express and convey his art – mixed media, sculpture, installation, performances, video, body painting and community collaboration. Akirash enjoins and encourages public participation as he strongly believes everyone has a role to play in telling their own story. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya is a graduate of Biochemistry from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. A few years back, he gave in to his calling for the arts and applied to study fine and applied arts at the institute of Textile technology, Arts & Design (ITTAD), in Lagos, Nigeria. After this, Akirash
took to satisfying his wandering and restless soul, in search of something more, something inspiring and like a gypsy he has a number of countries in which he has had a chance to call home at one point or the other countries, in between which he has also taken part in numerous exhibitions, biennales, and residencies. In 2000, he started a non-governmental organization – ‘Art With Akirash’. The essence of this is to contribute to the development of communities, support women, and children by encouraging art in public spaces. An intervention that has gotten a number of women and children off the street and opened them to numerous opportunities made available by arts. An advocate for liberal approach, The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Akirash lets the community guide their creative process with the belief that they will take care of whatever comes out of it. The creative works most of the time takes the form of public performances and drama, a tool he finds effective to share experiences and enlighten the people.
basic, human instinctual needs such as the need to achieve goals and dreams. “We as a people cannot survive without one another. Our lives are interwoven with those around us. We are both dependent and relied upon.” Akirash says. Materials used in this installation include repurposed boxes that are cut, sprayed and woven and synced with thread. The slides are collected from various people, mostly strangers. Light is then shot through the slides from the ceiling to reflect on the mylar floor after being installed.
A recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowship like the 2014 University Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin, and the Fellowship at Kiosko Gallery in Bolivia to mention a few, it comes as no surprise that he was selected to feature at the Dak’Art Biennale international exhibition in which he represents the United States. Accompanying this installation is a performance titled ‘Disguise! They Left Me Naked’. One in which He exhibited the installation titled ‘Portraits’. The Akirash says would leave his installation incomplete concept behind portrait is to show that Africans if not performed at the biennale, as it serves as a are not different from the other people of the background to the work. The performance led by world. Despite race, language and other cultural Akirash in a complete state of ‘undress’ tackles distinctions, Akirash narrow down the similarities to postcolonial agony and the lack of self-projection by The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Africans, saying we are not skilled in projecting the good in ourselves despite our hurtful past. This was a well-suited performance for the main exhibition’s theme of Reenchantment.
indicate the peace and tolerance we Africans have in spite of our experiences. Some may find Akirash’s methods quite eccentric, but with no doubt, it gets the warranted attention he seeks to communicate his message and enlighten people.
As it is expected of Akirash, like in most of his performances, he carried out this performance in Akirash lives in Austin, Texas, in the USA. collaboration with the indigenous people of Dakar, each of them was covered with mud (wet red earth) from head to toe, over their clothes, except for Akirash who was painted directly on his naked body and wore a blue mesh around his neck. They take to the streets of Dakar carrying small iron buckets of water with two men carrying a large cauldron behind them. The journey to the performance ground was interspersed with ritualistic movements and screams of agony. Arriving at the open ______________________ performance square, which also happens to be Senegal’s Independence Square, Akirash, and his Roli Afinotan is a young culture writer, a photographer and who enjoys expressing herself artistically at any co-performers knelt to remove their muddy clothes filmmaker, chance. Roli’s dream is to become an art curator and a published and clean their body from the water carried in the author. big cauldron. As they washed, they added indigo blue to the bucket, the blue soapy colour is to The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
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The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Features > Art Beyond My Border
In Pursuit of Bling - Desire, 2014-2016, Photo courtesy of In Situ â€“ Fabienne
THE RISE OF AFRICAN VOICES IN THE ART MARKET by Erica Famojure. Images provided by 1-54 Comtemporary African Art Fair The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
ust a couple of decades ago, the notion that a true modern African art movement did not exist seemed to be a widespread belief. Still holding on to the narrative that the continent’s art consisted mostly of traditional works and “artifacts by artisans,” many curators and collectors focused their attention elsewhere. Now, the environment is changing and the dynamics of the historically exclusive market are evolving. This in turn increases the visibility of contemporary African art and presents newfound creative and economic opportunities for those on the continent. However, these newfound creative economic opportunities for Africa is debatable, it was evident at the recently held 1:54 art fair in New York. At the beginning of May, curators, collectors, and art lovers converged in New York City for the second edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in the US. Held at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the fair welcomed approximately 6,500 visitors who viewed works by over 60 artists from different countries in Africa and the Diaspora. These artists were represented by 17 galleries from Europe, the United States, and Africa. The fair attracted the presence of more artists, culture leaders and art enthusiasts in its second year in the US.
festival, Shimite Obialo, founder of digital platform Anoko, Sharon Obuobi, founder of Art Accra, and Amy Sall, founder and editor-in-chief of SUNU Journal of African Affairs, Critical Thought + Aesthetics, moderated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the challenges of the Emerging Social Entrepreneurs and Cultural Brokers were analysed. For many years, utilizing existing platforms for exhibition of works was a difficult feat for most African artists because those resources were unavailable to them. Awachie spoke about her realization that there was no presence of African art at Yale. This was not because there was no work from the continent to display, Ifeanyi notes. “[The] artists have always been making art,” but there was just no coverage of them— despite the growing enthusiasm for these works in the digital sphere. Obialo who created the digital platform and community Anoko set to launch in December 2016, came across the same issue from the art collector’s perspective. The exclusive and “insular” art world has consistently built barriers for those eagerly wanting to invest in the market and the artists who wish to introduce their work to a fast-growing consumer base. While this audience has representatives from all corners of the globe, festivals such as Obuobi’s Art Accra are springing up to “connect people [on the continent] to art” and provide resources from which “everyone can benefit”.
While the main artists exhibited at 1:54 hailed from the continent and the Diaspora, it should be noted that of the 17 participating galleries, only four of these galleries are based in Africa — AFRONOVA Gallery and David Krut Projects in Johannesburg, ARTLabAfrica While indeed beneficial, funding these social in Nairobi and Galerie Cécile Fakhoury in Abidjan. With entrepreneurial ventures does not come easy, they less than half of the exhibitors based on the continent, present a challenge to the sustainability of the market. by Jite Efemuaye the question that comes to mind is, who controls Obuobi points out that most financial support for today’s African art market in the greater global space? African art comes from the West because of the belief here that there is no market for it on the continent, Though not an inquiry that can derive a simple, but with digital platforms bridging the gaps of succinct, or straightforward answer, this conspicuous communication, this misconception is being shattered. issue was raised at 1:54 FORUM programs. The history Obialo made the point that most consumers on the and promising trajectory of the African art market were continent and in the diaspora interact via their mobile highlighted matters during the panel-led discussions. devices. Social networking platforms have provided Curated by Koyo Kouoh, artistic director of RAW links of communication between various communities. Material Company based in Dakar, the aim of the panel Sall, who has used Instagram to encourage the youth discussions was to address the artistic, cultural, and to contribute to her journal SUNU, says that social economic shifts occurring in the contemporary African media helps “to get the continental voice” to the art movement as they relate to how art is currently audience. Having collective ownership of the spaces curated, acquired, and collected. In a conversation these innovators and their peers have developed between Ifeanyi Awachie, curator of Africa Salon: Yale for the community is paramount to the long term University’s contemporary African arts and culture success of the burgeoning movement considering the The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
PB#37 from “The Plantation Boy” series, 2012, Photo courtesy of TAFETA
1-54 NY Forum ÂŠ KatrinaSorrentino
War and Love Booty : Shongo the Lightning, 2011-2016, Photo courtesy of In Situ â€“ Fabienne Leclerc
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
by Erica Famojure.
conversation has long been a one-sided one.
It is evident that a market for contemporary African art exists and continues to grow, a shift in the conversation about African art must also occur simultaneously. Another FORUM discussion with museum curators led by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Museum and Contemporary African Art, questioned the ways institutions are presenting the multiple layers and complexities of African art to the public. The growth and heightened interest of the contemporary African art market has made it easier for curators and artistic directors to pitch the importance of the work to institutional trustees, but museums need to present art in its best light. “African art has intellectual content” and it is important to draw attention to “the stories the art tells,” suggested Kevin Dumouchelle, Associate Curator of Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands at the Brooklyn Museum. Karen Milbourne of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art agrees.
Frances Goodman, Succubus, 2016, Photo courtesy of the artist and Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York
Often, African art is looked at through a historical or traditional lens. Labelling all African art as traditional actually devalues its complexities. Because the discourse has been centred on the term “traditional,” the specific events and circumstances that influenced the creation of the work are left out of the conversation. Milbourne made the point that exhibiting work across genres and various disciplines and media will foster a greater understanding. More specificity must be given to all art forms to allow all artists to be seen as artists of various disciplines and not purely defined by “African”; the nomenclature is significant. Yemosi Umolu, curator of Exhibitions at University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center of the Arts, believes that the community should use “different layers of defining and naming African art to incorporate the diversity of interaction.” There are many players in the contemporary African art movement. Social entrepreneurs, artistic directors, curators, and collectors all affect how the market is shaped and to some extent, because they serve as conduits for information between the art and the public, they also play a role in representing the voice of the African art market. In all of these, how does the African artist contribute to the market?
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
One of the outstanding shows at the fair was the paradoxical installations by South African artist Frances Goodman, which challenge the societal constructs around traditional gender roles and confront the idea that performed femininity and beautification are not solely about self-adornment, but also reflect selfempowerment. Goodman’s multi-coloured sculptural installations Lilith, 2015, and Succubus, 2016, plunge toward the viewer in a way that may feel instantly gruesome and off-putting, but upon closer inspection, you will see that the structures are constructed of fake, acrylic nails — an item “commonly associated with female identity.” The ability of these sculptures to evoke such a strong reaction provide insight into how items associated with femininity, a trait seen as fragile and sensitive in today’s patriarchal society, can signify power. Five artists from Nigeria were among artists from the 26 countries represented. Paris-based gallery In Situ/ Fabrienne Leclerc displayed a few pieces from returning 1:54 artist, Otobong Nkanga. Nkanga’s work, which often reference the implications and consequences of Nigeria’s oil industry, crosses various disciplines such as sculpture, installations, painting, drawing, and textiles. However, apart from her 2015 textile work, Infinite Yield, the rest of Nkanga’s work shown at 1:54 were her photography pieces War and Love Booty: Shongo the Lightning, 2011-2016, Currency Affair: Okpoho and King Manilla, 2011-2016 and work from her 2014-2016 series In Pursuit of Bling. In addition to exhibiting her recent mixed media piece, The Playground (and melting into stationary things) created in 2016, ruby onyinyechi amanze, represented by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery returned to 1:54 this
year to discuss how her drawings raise the topics of “cultural hybridity” and feelings of “belonging and displacement.” Her conversation with independent curator Dexter Wimberly titled Artist Talk: The Politics and Privilege of Play was part of the FORUM program series. London gallery TAFETA exhibited pieces by Uche Okpa-Iroha, Adeniyi Olagunju, and Babajide Olatunji. Inside TAFETA’s booth were large-scale charcoal and pastel detailed drawings of Olatunji’s Tribal Mark III series created in 2016, alongside Olagunju’s bisected wood sculptures Mangbetu and Kwese made in 2016. Kenyan-born artist Phoebe Boswell was in attendance during the fair and she spoke to visitors about her piece Stranger in the Village, 2015. What began as a personal mission to engage socially with the Swedish community of Gothenburg during her residency at Konstepidemin, soon evolved into a series of drawings documenting her brief conversations with mostly white men and the culturally tinged micro-aggressions directed at her while “swiping right” on Tinder. Stranger in the Village demonstrates how an individual can be automatically labeled and “boxed” into a category based solely on her assumed cultural identity. The racial segregation and the Western world’s “singular story” of Africa are clearly highlighted in this work and are reflective of issues that have long permeated the art world. Beyond creating these critical works, some artists contribute to the market in multiple ways. Lagosbased participating artist, photographer, and director of The Nlele Institute (TNI), Uche Okpa-Iroha does so in a number of ways and he is not alone. As director of TNI, a “Pan-African, autonomous, non-profit
“With less than half of the exhibitors based on the continent, the question that comes to mind is, who controls today’s African art market in the greater global space?”
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by Erica Famojure.
Randela 100/2, 2016, Photo courtesy of the artist and Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York
byOlagunju, Erica Famojure. Niyi Mangbetu, 2016, Photo courtesy of TAFETA The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Tribal Mark Series III No5
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organization” that serves as a “grooming ground” for young photographers, Okpa-Iroha and his team work to provide a platform for the next generation of young, creative Nigerians to develop their skills and showcase their work. Noticing the huge gaps in Nigeria regarding available resources for young artists and the new, “eclectic” works they are creating, it was important that he got involved in a project that focuses on training these emerging artists. Optimistic that the market for contemporary African art will flourish, Okpa-Iroha still recognizes the challenges artists from Africa continue to face. His works serve as “visual petitions” that question the stereotyping of Africans and other marginalized groups at home and in the West. Photographs from his 2012 series, “The Plantation Boy,” were exhibited in the TAFETA gallery booth at 1:54. In this series, OkpaIroha explores the erasure of the black man in one of Hollywood’s most iconic films, The Godfather. Crossing performance with self-portraiture, Okpa-Iroha inserts himself into various scenes in the film to challenge the viewer into confronting the fact that though the black man helped to build America, there is no place in the film where a black man is a fully developed character until he becomes a part of the moment as “The Plantation Boy”. He sees the parallels between the underrepresentation of people of color in western media and artists from Africa and the diaspora in the art world. “Stereotyping is everywhere in daily living,” he says. Even though he had been an established artist for a while, galleries were still labelling him as an “emerging” artist and his work was often undervalued. With this kind of exploitation still occurring, it is important that artists educate themselves and are informed of their rights. Through the Nlele Now program, TNI represents young photographers and strives to empower them with the knowledge they need to promote and protect themselves in a market that has historically taken advantage of artists from Africa. Okpa-Iroha acknowledges that the market is gradually improving and growing, especially in Lagos, but there is still work to be done. He comments that African artists should not wait for foreigners to buy their work. When people at home create awareness and develop the market, it helps to “build synergy.”
in the arts from those in the local scene. Growing economies in major metropolitan cities across Africa are contributing to an expanding middle class that is taking notice of the art world for business opportunities. The pervasive myth that there is no interest in art or no art market in Africa is one that is being challenged and disproven with every art fair, auction, pop-up gallery, and art festival that springs up locally. However, in spite of the growing market on the local scene, markets like 1:54 Contemporary Africa Art fair are still essential to the visibility and mobility of the work being produced by artists on and of the continent. Artists, curators, and collectors alike still need the international market to engage with each other. After witnessing the community of culture leaders that came together in Red Hook, Brooklyn one cannot deny the strength of the African voice.
Erica Famojure is a New York City based neuroscience researcher by day and culture/lifestyle writer at all other times. She has written for Complex magazine’s Pop Culture channel and has created various documentary and written projects about her experiences as a first-generation American millennial woman of color. Erica is currently creating a series of personal essays documenting her permanent move from NYC to Lagos. Erica writes full time on at ericaofamojure.com.
On the surface , it seems as though the West still controls the African art market, this is not completely so. One must pay attention to the growing interest
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Features > Market Report
WHAT CURRENT AUCTION REPORTS SAY ABOUT ART FROM NIGERIA IN GLOBAL MARKET TRENDS by Jite Efemuaye
As the month of May is a major season for auctions on African art, attention shifts to TKMG, Arthouse Contemporary and Bonhams for the outcome of their sales. The auctions were a cornucopia of the finest art from the continent.
Amongst these lots is a Polly Alakija’s Untitled piece bought above asking price. Kolade Oshinowo who led the sales at the 2015 TKMG auction with his painting Dupe, sold for N2,200,000 had a poor reception at this year’s auction as none of his four works made a hit. Other works that suffered a Ben Enwonwu once again led the sales at all the similar fate were six pieces by David H. Dale - etchings, auctions with the Spirit of Ogolo sold atBonhams Africa beadwork and copper foil on board - with asking prices Now auction in London for £218,500 (inc premium) and between N1.2m and 3.5m and three paintings by Sam Obitun Dancers at the Arthouse Contemporary Art Ovraiti, all priced below N1m. auction in Lagos for N46million. According to results released by TKMG, 52% of the 104 artworks on display was sold, a low compared with At the TKMG (Terra Kulture and Mydrim Gallery) Lagos previous auctions. Actually, this marks the second year auction, Ghanaian artist Ablade Glover’s Market Queens in a row. Not even the presence of the new Ooni of led sales at N3.1m. The artist’s work Peopleby was alsoEfemuaye Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and his Olori shifted sales Jite the second highest selling piece at N2.8m. Both pieces upward. were oil on canvas paintings created in the same year, 2013. Amongst top works sold at TKMG were the works The Arthouse Contemporary auction which took place of Francis Nicase Tchiakpe, whose painting Untitled (3 at the WheatBaker Hotel in Ikoyi two weeks after had no in 1) sold for N1.8m and Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Ori Re known royalty appearance. The auction house went into Canaan created in 1970 sold for N1.3m, the only one of sales with high hopes, having sold about 1.1 billion Naira his five works to be sold. It was a little surprising that a for one thousand, one hundred art pieces since 2008 great artist like Bruce Onobrakpeya commands so low when it opened. with only one work sold out of five? In this May auction, Arthouse featured works of the Sculptures at the auction did not get much interest as usual Nigerian masters and some known artists such most of the lots received no bid. Agose Patrick’s Quiet as Ben Enwonwu, El Antasui, Ablade Glover, Akinkola Time, a bronze sculpture which sold for the minimum Lasekan, Ben Osawe, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Lamidi asking price of N400,000 was the only piece sold in Fakeye, Okpu Eze, Susan Wegner, Gani Odutokun, Yusuf this category. There were a good number of sales Grillo, Abayomi Barber, Kolade Oshinowo, and Amon from works created by young to middle-aged artists. Kotei. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Ben Enwonwu, (Nigerian, 1917-1994),
‘Spirit of Ogolo’ Image via Bonhams site The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Sculptures from Francis Uduh, Reuben Ugbine, Okpu Eze, Bunmi Babatunde, Kenny Adewuyi, Bisi Fakeye, Amos Odion were also on sale at the auction and recorded meaningful bids. At a similar auction by Arthouse in November 2014, Bunmi Babatunde’s bronze sculpture Possibilities, from the gymnastic series sold for N3.74m, achieving a good sales record. While he did not repeat the feat, his only piece at this auction, Gingerly Acrobatic, a contemplative sculpture crafted from ebony wood, commanded a tidy N1.2m. Leading the sales was Ben Enwonwu, after a bidding war which climaxed at N46million for Obitun Dancers, an oil on canvas painting created in 1990. This doesn’t come as a surprise as Ben Enonwu has been enjoying a dominant share of the African art auctions in Lagos and the UK since the secondary art market surfaced in 2008. Next in line were the following works; Yusuf Grillo – Threatened Innocence, 1999/2002, sold at 16million, Bruce Onabrakpeya – Scarecrow 1, 1965, and Ben Osaghae – Prayer Warriors 1, 2009, both sold at N11million. Another of Ben Enwonwu’s painting – Haze, water colour on paper, sold at N8million. Following these artists in line were the likes of Ndidi Emefiele, Ablade Glover, Julien Sinzogan, Mavua Lessor and Kainebi Osahenye. According to Joseph Gergel, a consultant at Arthouse, before the auction, they were “cautiously optimistic of the results based on the current situation of Nigeria’s economy.” He added that “as a testament to the overwhelming interest in the modern and contemporary African art at the moment, we were pleasantly surprised that the auction was a success and also set unusual record prices.” 116 lots were featured at the auction and according to the results of the 14th auction released by Arthouse Contemporary a few days after the event, a total sale of N124, 834,00 (one hundred and twenty-four million, eight hundred and thirty-four thousand Naira) was recorded. This is a remarkable record when compared with TKMG’s auction records from the same economy. It is apparent that not all the auction houses are very lucky in the country’s current state. TKMG is not the only one, Sogal Art Auction suffered a similar fate a month before at its auction held at the Porsche centre showroom. Commenting on the rising value of African art, sales expert at Arthouse, Nana Sonoiki, noted that African
art is heading to the forefront of the global art market, “to become one of the fastest growing markets,” with prices of artworks rising at an unprecedented pace. Over five thousand kilometers away, Bonhams held another Africa Now auction at the end of May. Prior to the auction date, a preview was held in Lagos at Alara Contemporary on Victoria Island. At the auction, Ben Enwonwu’s Spirit of Ogolo recorded a final bid of £218,500, slightly exceeding the asking price. This is almost three times the “staggering price of Anyanwu” a popular piece by Enwonwu sold in 2015 by the same auction house. Following Ben Enwonwu’s skyrocketing sales are Yusuf Grillo’s Mother of Twins which sold at £146,500, confirming his status as Nigeria’s most priced living artist and El Anatsui’s wood panels titled Used Towel in 25 pieces sold for £176,500. During the preview at Alara Contemporary in Lagos, Giles Peppiatt, Director of Modern African Art at Bonhams was excited by the increasing value of African art in recent times and the role Bonhams played in the course of the new development. “For me personally, the two results that stand out are the sale, for £3.1m, of the oil by Irma Stern entitled Arab Priest, a world record for any African painting and then Ben Enwonwu’s, ‘The Mirror sculptures’ which sold for over £360,000,” Peppiatt stated in his presentation tagged Nigeria At The Centre Of A New Scramble For Africa. “What we have seen and continue to see is a new “Scramble for Africa”, not for land or gold or diamonds this time, but for art. The scramble I am talking about, the one centered on art, is a rather different kind of tussle and one that is making art a viable occupation for artists across Africa.” Now scheduled for twice in a year, the next Bonhams’ Africa now will hold in October, also in London, this applies to Arthouse too.
Jite Efemuaye is an editor, freelance writer and graphic artist. Her work has appeared in African Independent, sabinews.com, Brittle Paper,com and Ake Review.
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Features > Opinion
THE WEST VS. AFRICA: CULTURAL EXCHANGE OR CULTURE EXPLOITATION? by Jovonna Jones
One winter afternoon at the beginning of the year, I stood entranced at the corner of Lina Viktor’s “Arcadia” and Petite Noir’s “Best” music video at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African-American Art at Harvard University. The works and I communed amidst New Orleans brass band music, echoing against the rich blue walls of the gallery. Lina Viktor is from London, with roots in Liberia. Petite Noir (né Yannick Ilunga) is South African, born in Brussels with Congolese and Angolan blood. As for me, I am traceable to New Orleans and Boston with an affinity for the African Diasporic underpinnings that connect me to some others and some never. In this Gallery, I lingered along the edges of blackness in various artistic forms: musical, mechanical, geographical, exponential, and things moving— always moving.
have to leave the continent for their creative influence to be recognized? When new and old forms of African art and culture become popular in the West, who benefits? Is this contemporary cultural scene an exchange, an export, or an exploitation? How is it that Africa is simultaneously celebrated and erased?
In this contemporary moment, black artists —whether from the African continent or elsewhere in the Diaspora — possess far-reaching influences. Amidst globalized cultural exchange and taste-making power, Western masses in particular continue to hunger for African and African Diasporic art across creative industries, and for varying reasons.
• A couple of months ago, after performing with Nigerian choreographer Kaffy, R&B star Ciara and her dancers performed to popular Afro-beats tracks on the streets of Dolphin Estate in Lagos. Ciara shared the choreo-clips on Instagram, and according to Bella Naija, described the passion of the moves as “not just a dance but a feeling.” “I couldn’t leave without doing this!” she captioned, “the soul, the culture, the passion here is unreal! Thank you for opening up your neighborhood to me and my dancers!”
Music icons and art shows are engaging contemporary African artists in really important ways. It is exciting to watch and thrilling to be a part of the unfolding trend. But, I also wonder, do African artists and/or their work
These are some recent instances of engagement. • In May, we saw global music sensation Beyoncé had recruited Nigerian artist based in the US Laolu Senbanjo to do some artwork for her visual album + film, Lemonade, having fallen in love with his Afromysterics, Yorubainfluenced painting. Kenyan-born, Somali-British poet Warsan Shire also contributed to the project, with her chilling and deeply tender verses of betrayal and love.
• During this year’s Armory Show Art Fair in New York, the 2016 Armory Focus: African Perspective exhibition and The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Lina Iris Viktor, Arcadia, 2014. Image courtesy:Lina Iris Viktor
panel-led discussions focused on more conventional ideas of the African continent and its ‘counterpart,’ the Western hemisphere. Through the Armory Focus on Africa, Contemporary African voices in the international art world were spotlighted. The exhibition examined the artistic developments and manifold narratives arising from African and African Diasporic artists, emphasizing geographic fluidity and global connections.
of the cultural imagination, profiting from African resources while draining Africa’s global influence. It is insidious, really. In a World Policy blog post, Ugandan economist Patrick Kabanda remembers hearing from his mother that “the colonialists had considered African music meaningless,” with only mining and oildrilling as Ugandans’ hope for prosperity. Practicing African music professionally wouldn’t be useful. Now, reflecting on his unrequited passion for music growing up, Kabanda proposes that creative economy in Africa deserves reconsideration and re-investment across mediums: “music, painting, sculpture, design, literature, publishing, and the performing arts”.
As it stands, it seems like the art world still operates as if people can only succeed as artists if they locate themselves in the ‘West’. The art world power-players do not outrightly say, “African cities aren’t important” but their actions say a lot. One should be curious about the ways in which Africa-as-place and Africa-as-aesthetic is Globally, culture and art are undeniably lucrative. angled in the broader art world. According to the African Business Magazine, global creative export of goods and services reached $592 African countries have always produced brilliant thinkers billion in 2008. But, Africa maintains less than 1% of and creators. Yet, from colonialism to globalization, that economy, compared to the U.S.’ 12.5%. Along European countries and the U.S. take up the center with Kabanda, the ABM reasons that Africa’s creative The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
A still shot from MY AFRICA IS documentary, produced by Nosa Rieme Garrick
economy suffers from ‘underinvestment’. Since I am not from Africa and do not live on the African continent, I cannot speak about the creative industry policy, although, I will later point to a few comprehensive Africabased initiatives that are working on this very issue. However, when I think of the term ‘underinvestment’, I also believe that there should be a global responsibility in fair creative exchange. This exchange isn’t just about buying artworks, but also about attending art schools, residencies, and art fairs in countries other than the U.S., England, and Germany. When I think about ‘underinvestment’, I immediately think of some of the ways that I have experienced a lack of regard for African creative economy in the global cultural realm. As a young art writer, I read many online arts publications and try to keep up with contemporary conversations around important art world resources and destinations. Most recently, I read two artnet News’ articles, “11 Affordable Art Schools in Art World Centers (and Some Alternatives)” and “Which Cities Are Best for Artists in the 21st Century.” Neither of these articles list any African cities—not even Dakar, known for the Dak’Art Biennale, operating since 1992. All of the cities listed are in either the U.S. or in Europe, with the exception of Mexico City. African cities are not included in the forecast of future art space. Up-and-coming artists and writers are not
being actively encouraged to look towards Africa as a space for creative professional learning. Top art market research is just as void on Africa’s art industry. In Artprice’s “Overview of the Global Art Market in 2015,” the numbers show that the West has experienced 9% growth in the art market (an emphasis on art auction), with London becoming the world’s second largest marketplace. New York ranks as #1, and other cities on the list include Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Canton, Milan, Vienne, and Munich — again, no African cities. The report states that this growth is not due to an increase in transactions, but to the increasing prices of sales, a mature market, and “higher quality works.” Basically, the Monet’s and the Basquiat’s are increasing in value and the same few art auction houses (the Christie’s and the Sotheby’s) continue to dominate. It is apparent that Western tastes drive art world economies. This is not to say that creative value can only be measured in markets and auction houses. But, wherever the art market economically booms, it impacts the other facets of art world experiences — including whose art demands value and how the art is presented. Basiquat’s art, for example, continues to be revered for The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
its ‘child-like primitivism’, a fundamentally racist, colonial way of framing his work that has persisted since he first hit the scene. African artists’ work is curated collectively in terms of exploration, progress, and development. In Western imagination, Africa has never really arrived. From 2010 - 2011, The Museum of Arts and Design in New York exhibited The Global Africa Project, “[exploring] the impact of African visual culture on contemporary art, craft, and design around the world.” This exhibit featured more than 100 artists who work in Africa, Europe, Asia, the U.S., and the Caribbean, critically engaging new emerging talent from the diaspora. Represented mediums included photography, painting, sculpture, installation, furniture, architecture, textiles, fashion, jewelry, ceramics, and basketry. GAP sought to “actively [challenge] conventional notions of a singular African aesthetic and identity, and [reflect] the integration of African art and design without making the usual distinctions between ‘professional’ and ‘artisan’.” Recognizing art as social entrepreneurship, the museum also featured a pop-up shop that featured products from African-based craft and creative collaborations, primarily serving women. They wished to examine the ties between social entrepreneurship and local-level economic sustainability. The question is, how much impact did this project have on Africa directly? Again, in 2016 (from April - September), the Brooklyn Museum in New York is exhibiting Disguised: Masks and Global African Art. One reviewer described this exhibition as a reclamation of African narratives and cultures, “and using this tradition to talk to us about contemporary issues: racism, homophobia, corruption, inequality.” Now, as a Black American, I appreciate and need this kind of access to African and African diaspora art. If it wasn’t for scholarly fellowships, I wouldn’t even be able to afford traveling beyond the U.S. to engage my studies in global blackness and creativity. For now, places like MAD and the Brooklyn Museum are crucial spaces of discourse and creativity for me. Nevertheless, the tradition of ‘integrating’ and ‘re-engaging’ African art as a form of progress or politic is a theme that has been warmed over and over again. Contemporary Africa seems to exist in the Western imagination as a theme of development and redemption, not as a legitimate player in innovation and creativity. So, does this perception limit investment in the African creative industry?
Fortunately, some Africa-based research collectives are addressing this global creative inequity, publishing studies such as “Creating Spaces: Non-Formal Arts Education and Vocational Training for Artists in Africa” and “The Impact of Art, Culture, and Creative Industries on Africa’s Economy.” Networks, like Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), galvanize the private sector to support arts through sponsorship and mentoring. Creators, like producer Nosarieme Garrick of Nigeria, capitalize on media to project African creative industries. Garrick’s initiative “My Africa Is: Alternative on the World Channel” highlights cultural economies and innovations in different cities. In an article written on Medium.com, Garrick explains that in Lagos, “we explored solutions being developed by young innovators that could address lack of infrastructure”; in Dakar, “we captured the culture, youth politics, and potential for tourism”; and in Nairobi, they are noticing the city as “a key player in putting the African continent on the global map for tech and innovation.” All of these initiatives do the work of critiquing and re-framing creative industry in the global contemporary moment. They highlight the fact that we can not just consume African creative material around the globe without supporting and sustaining the industries that make it happen. As always, Africa is at a critical juncture of creative production and power like other continents. From dope Afro-beats on Instagram to Senbanjo’s painttheologies, Nollywood films to Ghanaian web-series, Dak’Art Biennale to The Armory Show. From Lina Viktor to Petite Noir to New Orleans Jazz, Africa’s blood and innovations persist along widely-shared avenues. Africa moves, and transformation is not just happening. Africa already arrived contrary to its positioning in global imagination. So, if artists can only succeed when basedin or active in the West, we need to drastically re-define and re-create what it means to be an art world.
Jovonna Jones is a doctoral student of African American Studies and the History of Art at Harvard University. She writes about art & equity, and she is the co-founder/editor of BlacQurl. com, a media blog for black women creators.
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Adolphus Opara shares the story behind his career in photography with Roli Afinotan as he prepares for a solo exhibition on his decade long career.
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
A trained professional from the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Adolphus Opara is not just a documentary photographer but also a photojournalist. He, however, does not quite like to identify himself as a journalist as most of his pictures are taken for more personal and intimate reasons, which are more profound to him than the need to break the news. Most people familiar with Oparaâ€™s work describe his photos as compelling. His experimental approach to documentary photography leaves room for wonder and curiosity, making one yearns for answers either about his subjects, methodology or both. Seated across from Roli Afinotan during the interview, in the serene arty space of Terra Kulture in Lagos, Opara recounts his experience in the last ten years. What many people may not know is that, he ventured into photography by chance. Roli Afinotan: How and when did you get into photography?
Adolphus Opara: I began photography in 2006. I bought my first analog camera in 2005, tried it for a couple of months, got frustrated and dropped it. In 2006, I was working with artists, and organizing exhibitions. I worked at a gallery at the time. Then, we ran a residency program where international artists came in for 3-6 months at a time to work as well as showcase their works at exhibitions. This was a point of influence for me. I never imagined I was ever going to be a photographer in the first place, let alone an artist. I was planning to study Chemical Engineering. I was going in the direction of science but working at Nimbus Art Centre changed all that. I needed a form of expression and Engineering was not going to do it. So I picked up my camera again. In this sense, I am a self-taught photographer. I went anywhere, everywhere, shooting anything that struck me and that was a source of gratification for me. For the first two years, I did not make a dime from photography. I did it just for the fun and excitement. RA: Were you doing this alongside school? The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
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AO: Yes. I later got into Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. I was studying Computer engineering part time. RA: So, at what point did you get into photojournalism? AO: It all began at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism. I went to NIJ because I was curious and I wanted to understand the idea behind journalism and as such specialized in Photojournalism. I never really see myself as a journalist, sourcing for breaking news and all that, as I have always been more interested in the aesthetics of an image and visual content. All the same, I am happy I went to journalism school because it opened my mind to the concept of what a single image should be. This was my first professional training as a photojournalist. RA: Are you fascinated by any subject in particular? AO: People fascinate me. Not necessarily subjects or themes. In the past, I have worked on various subjects â€“ religion and the likes but it is more about my interaction and experience with people.
RA: Do you randomly pick individuals or there are certain criteria you look out for to determine who you photograph? AO: I will say my experiences with people determine this. By virtue of my personality, I easily make friends and as such allowed into their personal spaces. I am usually, genuinely interested in knowing them. In the process, they share their stories with me. As insignificant as these stories may seem, they open a whole new horizon and direction. These stories are easily relatable elsewhere in the world. RA: Despite the fact that you have said that you simply enjoy telling individual stories, would you say your work addresses any social issue? AO: Yes, a lot actually. Environmental, religious, economic and many more social issues are visible in my works. I have done stories of people that reveal immigration issues and raised questions of identity in Nigeria. This can be related to the ongoing migration crisis in the world. RA: And you are able to tell these stories with just pictures? The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
AO: Yes. It’s like a documentary. So it has to tell a complete story. RA: Can you give an overview of your work history? How progressive photography has been for you. I mean, it has been 10 years. AO: Yes, 10 years. Time really does fly. Photography has been in one word interesting. I am a photographer that likes to work on my own terms. Till date, I have been adamant about working full time for any media company because I want to be able to tell my stories without external influences. In between, I have received some awards, and gained recognition beyond this country.
be comprised of 5 or 10 projects, with a number of images from each project so one can have a balanced view of the sort of photographer I am. RA: Do you have a title for the exhibition yet? AO: Not yet. I like to be well prepared. What I can tell you is that it is going to be a solo exhibition and this would be my fourth one. My last solo exhibition was in 2013, sponsored by the Tate Modern Gallery at the Centre for Contemporary Arts here in Lagos.
RA: Is there any photographer you look up to and have influenced your work? AO: Well, yes. One of them is a mentor and friend. I actually curated his first solo exhibition – George RA: Speaking of exhibitions, we are looking forward Osodi. I respect him and his work a lot. Also, to an exhibition from you soon right? Can you tell us another friend would be Kadir Van Lohuizen. He’s a about it? Dutch photographer. AO: The exhibition is basically going to be a 10year retrospective of my work. What you have RA: What is the most controversial project you have seen bits and pieces of in the past and some new worked on? projects that have never been shown before. It will
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AO: (laughs) This is easy. â€œEmissaries of an Iconic Religionâ€?, where I explored diviners of traditional worshippers even beyond this country. I have noticed that people, especially Nigerians do not like to confront religious issues in this aspect. And I think it is important to know these things because we are fast losing our identities as Nigerians. I was criticized mostly by family. This project took me four years. It was a soul-searching project for me.
RA: How do you keep going on in all of this? AO: Passion. Ten years from now, I will still be a photographer and in twenty years too.
RA: Apart from photography, what else are you this passionate about? AO: Photography. My hobby is photography. I know it is sad because how can my work and hobby be the same. But I live photography. I teach workshops and embark on community projects like the Silent RA: Have you ever been in a precarious position as a Majority Project in Makoko. We taught teenagers photographer where you had to fear for your life? between the ages of 12 & 18. This was in 2010. This AO: Yes. I have been beaten up, robbed, broken lasted for 6 months. Oh! I also like traveling too, but a hand that will never be straight again, lost not without my camera. equipment worth over a million Naira and hospitalized but, I keep doing what I do.
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Adolphus Opara All images courtesy Adolphus Opara The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Simon Njami Portrait by Aida Muluneh via dakart.net
WHAT DREAMS ARE AFRICAN LEADERS OFFERING THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS? In a conversation with Simon Njami, Artistic Director, 12th Dakâ€™Art Biennale, Bukola Oye navigates the basis and urgent need to reignite an African dream and hope in Africa. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Bukola Oye: Why was the theme for Dak’Art Biennale 2016 “The City In The Blue Daylight” and what was the premise for it? Simon Njami: It was probably the city. That is, the city taken in the Greek sense of it. It was also about the organization of men, people living together. How do people live together? And, of course, the main line is that blue city dreamt by Senghor. What’s the city of freedom? A city made by Africans for Africans, and not necessarily directed as specific to the Africans. If you remember, you are too young to remember probably, but it was the colonial times and Senghor wrote that poem (about the blue city) when he was in prison. He was in the concentration camp, and just discovered that he was not French and if he wanted to apply his dream in a concrete life, he needed to be free. And for him to be free, he needed to be decolonized. That’s a dream that I think we need to revive every now and then because assuming that African countries are decolonized does not mean that the minds are decolonized. I think we still live in a kind of vertical world, instead of living in a horizontal one and “The City In The Blue Daylight” was about the horizontal. We are all equal, we all have our qualities and our defaults, but we are all contributing to the same thing. I put emphasis on a lot of things that we have in the city, a lot of the events were in the city and lots of interacting with the people. On one hand, there is what we call contemporary art, on the other hand, there is this gap between a kind of elite and the people who want to be part of it. That’s why we put a lot of buses out, all circulating within the city to take the people around. That’s why I renovated the train station. The train station is a hub, an open space in the city, an exterior. It is a working space, a place of meeting and also for the local people. So what we did was to reconnect what we call contemporary art with the people. Bukola: The train station, was it shut down prior to the biennale? Simon: It wasn’t shut down, but it was falling apart just like the courthouse used for Re-enchantments. Bukola: How many of these historical sites did you have to bring up for the entire biennale? Simon: Not that many, because there were a lot of things that took place in the popular neighborhood, at popular houses, at a couple of organizations coming
from the private world, and through individuals who have been working with the neighborhood like Raw Materials Company. I put a light on them to show people are doing things. The other thing is that we always think we are inventing things. The ideal thing is, when I do something in Dakar, I work with Dakar. There are people already doing things. So I integrate them in the global process as it is with the biennale. There are these art centers that have been there, I call them and say to them, join the biennale, what you are doing interests me and you’ll do it on your own. Because again, to do this, you have two options: whether you’re a great dictator and you achieve very little, or you work with people that have been there, and they open up and do things I don’t have to tell them to do. They know the city, they know where I do not know. So I sit with them to congregate all those initiatives into one. Bukola: For Re-enchantment, that is, the international exhibition, it felt nostalgic walking between now and then and lots of those historical fragments put together. What were you trying to do to us or achieve? Simon: Well, I look at the world, I look at Africa. I have lost more than one very dear person this year. One shot in Ouagadougou, one shot in Ivory Coast. Besides Africa, the world is not an enchanting place. The world we are living in is the place of the famous one percent. So how do we want people to believe that they can change things in the context that we are living in? How do you want a young man who is not part of French history, who lives in the suburb, who can’t speak French to his parents, who doesn’t see himself on television, how do you want him to resist when somebody come to him and say you’ll be a hero shoot these people, and gives him a weapon. Remember he is only existing after all. How do you want to prevent people from sinking in the Mediterranean Sea if you don’t give them a reason to hope. There is something people tend to forget, you cannot create a future out of nothing, you create the future out of the past, only people who have the memory can reinvent themselves. So I want to come back to the moment where what I call the useful dream was created by those called the father of African nations. Those people had a dream. Some of them turned their own dream into a nightmare, etc., but they had a project. My question is what is the project that we have today? What is the project that the African leaders are offering to the younger generation in our nations? In a country like Cameroon, there are only two presidents so far, one
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of them, that is the second was the prime minister of the first and has been there since 1982. So a kid that was born in 1982 or after only knew one president, and that person is bringing the country downhill. The thing is even on qualities, we have to reflect on the fact that time is passing and what may have been the best 20 years ago in certain conditions might be totally lost 20 years after, and what are we doing to prepare for the future, for the next generation? If you break the chain because you don’t want anyone to reach a branch you are sitting on because you don’t want anyone to sit on it, soon, the whole tree is going to fall apart. On running the biennale, I worked with a lot of young people within the organization. If you look at the show itself, more than 50% of the artists presented were under 30. If one day I retire (which will not be soon), and they say Mr. Njami you have passed nothing down, I would consider my entire life and career as a failure. But now, I know that there is Bisi Silva, Koyo Kouoh, and so on and more are coming. Which means that the future is kind of secured. When I started I was alone, and now there are like 10 that are doing these things around the world. Next time, they will be 20, 30, and 50, etc. For Africa to exist, if we are talking about contemporaneity, it means many voices, it needs a big wave, not just one person, two persons, or ten persons. That’s why besides doing the exhibition, I did a lot of workshops and master classes. Some people were disappointed when they came. They said, “Simon I have never heard of that one, how come you selected them?” I said you should be happy you were not selected, you are 60 years old, you have done 10 biennales, you should do something else. You are Senegalese, you live here, open your studio to people, do something, but leave that space for other people to enjoy. This is also how you can re-enchant the flame. When I came I had a very simple strategy. The courthouse was haunted, closed for 25 years. People thought there was a jinx in there, they wouldn’t come by. Now a lot of people from Senegal itself, who never set a foot there, go to the Palais de Justice. Before then, they wouldn’t dare. But now it is open. I saw people go in to sit and enjoy that thing that was there and nobody knew. For instance, in 1966, the contemporary exhibition of the Black Art Festival took place there but very few people knew. Since the opening, there has been a big discussion between the ministry of justice and the ministry of culture to reclaim the place. If art is able to put something out there that then becomes a political discussion, it means that we have achieved our
part. Although, they will do whatever they want, but this means the door is open and each and every person will do his job. Bukola: Some people remarked about Reenchantment as being too soft or subtle and not too rebellious. Was it deliberate to present conflicts in such manner? Moving through the hall and installations, it was difficult to know which emotions you wanted to evoke. For instance, passing through Alexis Peskine’s Raft of Medusa images to see Fabrice Monteiro’s President. This is not a Phoenix or Bili Bidjocka’s call for revolution. Simon: I don’t know what a rebellious work is, and I don’t think a rebellious work is a work that will state it that “I am rebellious”. I think a rebellious work is an honest work, it is a playful work. I mean, we are talking about art and some people have their own definition of art. I want to show them that art is the most serious of the non-serious businesses. And, I’m subtle, sorry. I don’t make blunt statements. I wrote a text, and I think that people have to understand it. The works of an exhibition is a proposition, and it is up to people to think and to take it and each and every one can take it at his or her own level. Some people have preconceptions about art. They see those clothes hanging and start to think I hope Mr. Njami knows what he is doing? He has written books and done this or that. So why is he showing this? Is this art or not? And all of a sudden, a discussion is initiated within people because as they moved from one space to another, there were only a few paintings and these are people who still understand art as paintings. Altogether, I hope that they felt something uncommon, something unbalancing, regarding the preconception that they might have had. First of all about the place, and then about the art, and about African art, etc. What I didn’t want to do is to lecture anyone and say this is how it is. I didn’t want to say “it is here, you take it”. Some works are harder to get than the other so I did not expect anyone to understand 100% of the works displayed. If you understood one, if your evaluation was one, then I am happy.
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INGRID BAARS ON Lâ€™AFRIQUE Ingrid Baars, Dutch artist based in Belgium, is one of those people whose skin colour and native home may not be African, but their heart dwells in Africa through unexplainable connections. She caught our attention online with an unusual series of work that fuses images of classical African antiques with images of female models, a collage creation achieved through photography and digital manipulation. She has over 20 years of work experience in photography and has been mainly inspired by the female form for as long as she could remember, especially forms of African women. Ingrid Baars find striking beauty in African women The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
and considers them sculptural and expressive, qualities she strives for in her work. To understand Ingrid Baars fascination with African women and the inspiration she gets from African cultural heritage, Roli Afinotan gets into a conversation with her on the journey of L’Afrique. How did you get into working with African narratives and images? I guess you could better ask what got me into African art and African women because I have never been to Africa. I got in touch with classical African sculptures through a friend who is an expert in this field. Also, I have had a fascination for African women for a very long time. I find African women very outspoken in their features and this really speaks to me as an artist. African women are very sculptural. Combining these two elements into one still is as inspiring to me today as it was when I first started with this series.
Would you categorise this as Afrofuturism going by descriptions we have seen online? That is a term that suddenly popped up in comments people gave to my work on social media, especially African-Americans. They used this term to describe my work. It is not something I had thought about before, but I like the description. I think my work both refers to historical art and artefacts as well as a futuristic feeling that it seems to present. I like to think of my work being timeless. It is our understanding that this series has been ongoing since 2011, are you still creating fresh works, and when do you intend to round it up? Yes, it is still ongoing and I do not know when I would round it up. Maybe I will never round it up. Have you considered visiting Africa considering L’Afrique is based on Africa? I wouldn’t say my series is based on Africa. It’s
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based on Classical African Art and African women. I find plenty of interesting sculptures in Brussels and Paris as well as strong beautiful faces. Everything else happens in my own head, I don’t feel the need to travel to Africa to get inspired or to create my art. Although, it would be fascinating to experience the continent first hand. For example, I find Himba women extremely inspiring. I would love to make a series on them, so eventually, that could be the purpose of my first trip. Is there a particular reason your work is fixated on the female form? It is just very clear to me that I do not feel any desire to portray a man. I could draw a man with interesting features but I am not interested in shooting pictures of a man with muscles and angular shapes and body hair and then smug him up with small pearls and soft skin tones and all those details I add in my work. I just don’t feel it. Most of the time I do not find any sensuality in a man’s face or body. A face like Xavier Bardem for instance, I find very interesting. He is got very strong shapes and also very sexy… but I can not loose myself in creating some sort of outwardly artwork of him. Although, I am attracted to men sexually I do not need to translate this into an artwork. Androgyne is as far as I would want to go. Besides the female form, what other subjects have you explored and do you intend to explore artistically? Although I do not follow fashion on an everyday basis, (I find the fashion world too hasty, all these fashion weeks feels like there is a fashion week going on somewhere every week of the year) I am still interested in fashion and sometimes I shoot a piece that inspires me to play a large or a smaller part in my artwork like I did with my artwork ‘Wallflower’. I shot Iris van Herpen’s ‘3 D skeleton Dress’ and integrated the piece with my model and other elements. Come to think of it, I am mainly interested in historical fashion garments and accessories. Now that you mention fashions shoots, it brings me to ask how that comes to play in the collage
works you make as you work with models. Does this inspire you in any way? Yes, it does inspire me. It is my starting point. When I do a photo shoot, there’s always a moment when I think; this shot is what I am definitely going to use for one of my artworks. When something magical happens, I always ask the model to please keep that gaze or that pose so I can shoot it again... but a perfect inspiring gaze mostly happens in a split-second. Mostly, this is a very ‘true’ moment, a moment during make-up or in between different poses when a model searches for a new pose and isn’t ‘posing’. Back to L’Afrique, after a number of exhibitions, you must have piqued the attention of critics, have you ever been confronted for using visuals and narratives from Africa because Africa is the ‘new discovery’ in the art world? Not necessarily. The phantasmagorical character of my work does not really inspire such a confrontation and I’m not connected to the ‘new discovery’ in the art world as you call it. I am a lonely soul in my creative process and more often than not an outsider looking in. Which works from the series would you say have garnered the most admiration? Fang and Grace are admired pieces, and Queen and Hunter for instance. Is any of these your favourite? My favourite work at this moment would be Lucrezia and Giulia and I have a band with my diptych The Twins. These are all images with a deep emotion, an emotion I feel when I create. I see my twins as sacred statues sculpted from wood, guardians with the power to frighten away bad spirits. What inspired your very first work? My very first work? Well, that depends on where you would like to begin. In my artistic career, thinking back, it has really always been girls and women that inspired me most. Even as a child when I was always busy drawing or doing other stuff with clay and so on, the subject always has been human beings, no.., The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
“The fact that Africa in many ways is a complete opposite of where I find myself geographically on this planet is one of the reasons I am attracted to it. But more precisely to its women and its artistic heritage.” – Ingrid Baars.
only girls and women. When I was really young you can add animals as well, especially a lot of mice. Are there particular issues you seek to address using these female forms? No. There are no social issues or any political issue that I address through my work.
to and inspired by it would be Egon Schiele. I also have a very strong admiration for some artists from the renaissance period, especially the Northern ones like Lucas Cranach, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Rogier van der Weyden but also Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli.
Describe your ideal day to us? When did you start working in digital collage? When I actually did the things that are on my list, A long time ago, well, digital ‘only’ since I got my first also the things I like to postpone. When I worked Apple around 20 years ago but I explored a collage hard and have been outside for a while, preferably technique already at the Academy of arts, in the in nature without too many people and at the end second or third year I guess. Drawing was my main of the day drink good red wine with Steven my medium at the time and I remember making several husband and with Micky in between. drawings, cutting them all up and then combine all best part in 1 ‘perfect’ drawing. Some years later What other things or experiences inspire you to I started exploring a collage technique that was create? built from photo-material. Although I did practice I am always very inspired by nature, by insects for photography as a medium in those days, I used instance. The beauty and intelligence of nature on a materials I found in magazines and colour-copied microscopic level leaves me in awe every time I am pictures I found in books. confronted with it and then there is archaeology. From Stone Age figurines to Minoan murals, and 2-D sculpture using digital tools is quite fresco’s to mummies and Egyptian artefacts to contemporary. Have you faced any criticism from dinosaur skeletons and ancient cave drawings. more traditional artists who don’t fancy digital These are all very inspiring to me. stuff? Colours too! Confronted with a colour that is just Not yet. ‘right’ can have a very deep impact on me and can instigate an immediate desire to get to work. Which artists inspire you and influence you that you model after? I do not model after anybody and I never did. If I am to name one artist whose work I am most attracted The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Ingrid Baars All images courtesy Ingrid Baars The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
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10 MOST SHARED ARTISTS
& ART PHOTOS ON OUR RADAR IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2016. Compiled by TSA Team.
1. El Anatsui, Ghanian Artist, b. 1944
Peju’s Robe, 2006 Sold for £806,500 (inc. premium) at African Masterpiece in Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale on 11th February 2016. Image via Bonhams website.
El Anatsui receives an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Harvard University at their 365th Commencement Exercise at Harvard University on May 26, 2016, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Paul Marotta, Getty Images, via Harvard University website. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
2. Kehinde Wiley, African-American, b. 1977
Kehinde Wiley’s touring exhibition has kept him in the news since the beginning of 2016. He is one of the most prominent contemporary artists of African descent in America.
Kehinde Wiley, Shantavia Beale II, 2012. A collection of Ana and Lenny Gravier. © Kehinde Wiley. Image credit: Jason Wyche, courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York, via the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts website.
Kehinde Wiley at the press preview of the exhibition “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” at Seattle Art Museum in February 2016. Wiley is sitting in front of his work “Santos Dumont - The Father of Aviation II”. Image by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times via The Seattle Times website.
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3. Laolu Senbanjo, Nigerian, b. 1982
Laolu Senbanjo rocked the media waves in April following the appearance of his Yoruba markings the “Sacred Art of Ori” in Beyoncé’s conceptual visual album titled Lemonade. This was shortly after he was in the news for a collaboration deal with Nike to customize Nike Air Max with his unique Afromysterics art.
“The Sacred Art of the Ori is a Spiritually Intimate Experience. It’s Cathartic for both me and my Muse. We Connect Our Minds, Bodies, and Souls on Higher Level. I paint their Spirit and Soul from that Connection. It Breathes Life into Us Both. ” — Laolu
Images via www.laolu.nyc | Artist image credit: Oluwaseye Olusa The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
4. Ibrahim Mahama, Ghanian, b. 1987
Ibrahim Mahama, Untitled, 2013. Repurposed material: draped jute bags on wall installation as public art. Image via Saatchi Gallery website.
Ibrahim Mahama has remained in the news since his appearance at the Venice Art Biennale in 2015, and the scandalous news of an art deal gone wrong with popular art dealer Stefan Simchowitz. He recently made the news again for his public art installation in Ghana in the exhibition â€œThe Gown Must Go To Townâ€? and for the installation of his work at the 2016 1:54 New York art fair. The name Ibrahim Mahama is fast becoming a regular at major art sales between London and New York.
Material Effects, 2015, Installation view at Eli and Edythe, Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, US. Courtesy of the artist and APALAZZOGALLERY via 1:54 website. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
5. Victor Ehikhamenor, Nigerian, b. 1970
Though the year is only midway, Victor Ehikhamenor must have ticked ‘done’ on all his 2016 goals. Congratulatory messages have trailed the name of the artist since the beginning of 2016. These are some of his accomplishments within 6 months. He was selected for a residency at Nirox Foundation and was also featured in an exhibition by 40 international artists installed at the Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind for “A Place in Time”. He exhibited at the 12th Dakar Biennale in May, where he created the installation “The Prayer Room”. Images of that room went viral immediately after the biennale opened in May. He is currently in Dresden recreating the “Wealth of Nations” in Germany. Amongst other residency programs awarded to the artist this year, Ehikhamenor has been selected for a residency at the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy starting in November 2016. Lastly, he is longlisted for FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices award for 2016. Fingers crossed to see the other things he will pull off before the year ends. Victor Ehikhamenor, Prayer Room, 2016. Site-specific installation at the 12th Dak’Art Biennale. Image Credit: Ayo Akinwandé | The Sole Adventurer
Victor Ehikhamenor, Isimagodo, 2016. Installation view, Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind. Image via the artist. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
6. Aida Muluneh, Ethiopian, b. 1974
Aida Muluneh has emerged as a favourite of critics and visitors at art fairs since last year. At the 2nd edition of 1:54 Art fair in New York, Artnet and a few other art news sites listed her work as one of the most interesting works to see at the art fair. Her solo exhibition â€œThe World is 9â€? at David Krut Projects in New York was also widely covered and shared online.
Dinkenesh Part One, 2016. Image via David Krut Projects website.
Sai Mado / The distant gaze, 2016. Image via David Krut Projects website. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Super Blue Omo, 2016. | © Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Image via Victoria Miro website.
7. Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nigerian, b. 1983
Njideka Akunyili Crosby truly refuses to be invisible. First, there was a solo show “I Refuse to be Invisible” at Norton Museum of Art in Florida, then there was the remarkable sale and media attention at The Armory Show in March. Njideka Crosby’s unrelenting rise and visibility are not exactly surprising. She has a long record of underground works and has some of her work hanging on the walls of prominent art institutions in the US, in South Africa and the UK. She was selected as one of the top black artists exhibited at the 2016 Art Basel. The most recent news about Njideka Crosby is winning the 2016 Canson Prix ‘Art on Paper’ award.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby,
Portals (Left Panel), 2016. Image courtesy of the artist’s website www.njidekaakunyili.com The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
8. Peju Alatise, Nigerian, b. 1975
The name Peju Alatise never leaves the news for too long. At the end of the first quarter in 2016, she released teasers from her recently completed project the “Flying Girls”, The works left us breathless when it appeared on her Facebook and on Instagram. The images and videos of the installation were shared ahead of a 3in1 exhibition show planned for later in the year. Of course, it got people flying over to her page with hundreds of likes and shares. In recent news, Alatise has been offered a spot for the 2016/2017 session of Artist Research Fellowship by the Smithsonian‘s National Museum of African Art at Washington, DC,
Peju Alatise, Flying Girls installation, 2013-2015. Image credit, Akingbade Akinyinka via the artist on Facebook.
Peju Alatise and the Flying Girls, image via the artist on Facebook. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
9. Alexis Peskine, French, b. 1979
Alexis Peskine’s installation the “Raft of Medusa”, was another big hit at the 12th Dakar Art Biennale. If you followed the biennale, there was no way you would have missed one of these images at the exhibition. It was hard to pick a favourite between the mounted glossy photographs from his video installation and the portraits made with nails. Alexis Peskine uses his knowledge of the African Diasporan struggle in Paris to recreate stories of lost dreams and the migration pull between Senegal and France. The Eiffel tower is a highly symbolic object in the conceptualization of his story on the young men seeking a better life in France and Europe in general. Alexis Peskine, Raft of Medusa. Image Credit: Ayo Akinwandé | The Sole Adventurer
Alexis Peskine, Raft of Medusa Series. Image Credit: Ayo Akinwandé | The Sole Adventurer The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
10. Olumide Oresegun, Nigerian, b. 1981
In March, Olumide Oresegun, a hyper-realist artist based in Nigeria made the headline on CNN online with the caption “These hyper-realistic photos are actually oil paintings”. This was amidst a frenzied buzz on the artist’s works. Olumide Oresegun was a regular artist quietly living his life and creating impressive realistic paintings until the image of his work fell into the hands of some art novice with huge following online. Boom! A star was born. Within a few days of social media buzz and feature stories on local and international digital news outlets, Olumide became a sought after artist by companies and art dealers. The premiere auction house in West Africa - Arthouse Comtemporary Ltd - also featured him in a solo online auction, which was a first in Nigeria. Sometimes, stars are made overnight.
Circulated Image: Olumide Oresegun, Submersion, Image via CNN website.
Olumide Oresegun, Frolicking, 2010 Featured in Arthouse Contemporary 1st Online Auction. Image Credit: George Osodi via Arthouse E-Catalogue June 2016. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
10 DESTINATIONS FOR AN ARTFUL ESCAPE By Nubi Kay’ (Wanderlust Chief at Travelbay.co)
A wise man once said, “the EARTH without ART is just EH!” In a quest to avoid falling into a state of eh, we reached out to our friends at Travelbay to recommend travel destinations that offer a unique artful escape experience. SEYCHELLES Before delving in, you should know two things: Artful escapes double as destinations that offer amazing art as well as compelling nature spots, and with Travelbay you can actually visit all of these places in a convenient and pocket friendly manner. With no further ado, here is a list of 10 destinations for an artful escape:
Ever wondered if those beach photos in picture frames are real? You may never get rid of those doubts until you find yourself on the Island of Seychelles. This is one islands where reality surpasses dreams. There are jungle and coastal walks, boat excursions, and diving and snorkelling to keep you buzzing. There are marine parks and natural reserves filled with specie endemic to the island that are easy to approach. The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
Banjul is the capital city of Gambia, and it is popular for many attractions including its architecture, grand markets, national museum, outdoor activities such as birdwatching and sports fishing, and a wide range of restaurant choices and night life.
Harmony is a state everyone tries to attain every now and then. While most find it in quiet places, only a few are lucky to find it even in the midst of lifeâ€™s busy noise. If there was a place where you can always experience harmony whenever you want, that place is Mauritius.
Banjul is a coastal city, and this means you are never far from the Atlantic Ocean to experience picturesque sunrise and sunsets. There is also a huge art market in Banjul where should definitely consider acquiring some art pieces.
The Island takes harmony to a whole new level and is never short of inspiration to all who love art. From its culture, food, music, to people, and fashion, this island welcomes visitors to engage in an amazing selection activities, attractions and places all waiting to be savoured, including traditional museums, parks and reserves, sea cruises, island trips, etc.
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> SOUTH AFRICA
Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa takes it to the next level. From acquatic wild life to that on land and up in the air, there is more than enough to feast the eye, only if you learn not to blink. The country is also littered with art galleries and shops, and you can always find street art on every corner.
Safari’s call is one to be answered by every art enthusiast. Nairobi is Kenya’s bustling capital city, and is known as a jumping-off point for the safari experience. In addition to its urban core, the city has Nairobi National Park, a large game reserve known for breeding endangered black rhinos and home to giraffes, zebras and lions.
If you are one for the culinary arts, Cape Town’s jumping Long St is a must-visit. Seafood delicacies on the Garden Route, curry in Durban’s Indian Area, a sizzling Cape Malay dish, or a braai (barbecue) in the wilderness are a few cuisines to keep you staying a happy explorer.
Do not forget about the elephants and the National museum, all contributing a little bit of magic to the Safari experience that awaits you in Nairobi. It wouldd be awesome to catch up with folks Magunga Williams too—a Kenyan artist who is using the internet to get others to read African fiction.
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The West African city formerly known as the Gold Coast is very welcoming, especially the cities of Accra and Cape Coast. Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa, having gained its independence in 1957 and so it has loads to offer in terms of artistic history.
Tales of the Arabian Nights comes close to describing Dubai with all of its artful beauty. The capital city of the United Arab Emirates is known for its ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music.
From the Elminaâ€™s slave castle to Kaumasiâ€™s vast markets where artists from around West Africa come to sell their wares and share trade secrets, Ghana offers a remarkable combination of ancient castles and markets allowing you learn of ancient kingdoms, and speak to artisans who continue traditional works in carvings, cloth weaving, and more.
Interestingly, the city still finds ways to keep its ancient cultures and traditions. On man-made islands just offshore is Atlantis, the Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks. After dark, Dubai sometimes seems like a city filled with lotus eaters, forever on the lookout for a good time. Its shape-shifting party spectrum caters for just about every taste and budget.
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Known to be home to Africa’s best coral beaches, Unguja is the archipelago’s main island. At its centre is Stone Town with its quasi-medieval medina, and a drive out of town through the avenue of mango trees – said to be planted over the bodies of past lovers of a 19thcentury sultan’s daughter.
Sunny all year long, waves like nowhere else, underwater beauty like paradise! These are some of the description for the Maldives Island. In a hunt for an artful escape, this island guarantees you never have to worry about rainy days that kill off the good vibes.
This is dream land for art enthusiasts who like a fine mix of history and mystery. Be ready to play with the dolphins, flanked by long, sandy beaches, restaurants, bars and dance-till-dawn full-moon parties, picturesque beauty and more.
Maldives is an island where the sands are white as the smiles of the locals, where fish swim happily in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, where the weather is a dream, and the deep rays of the sun waits to engulf you in their arms. This is one picture hard for us to paint with words, so you’d have to visit to see what I mean.
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> SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA The south west region of Nigeria offers a wide range of sights and experiences; from the majestic view from the top of Olumo rock and natural springs in Ijesha to the historic city of Ile-Ife and beautiful landscape of Ikogosi.
Do you know of any other destinations worth recommending for artful escapes? Do tweet at @tsalovesart and @travelbayhq with hashtag #artfulescape and you just may be on an allexpense paid trip to that destination.
Opa Oranmiyan’ which means Oranmiyan’s staff is one landmark you do not want to miss as it said to have been used by Yoruba legendary warrior believed to have turned into concrete upon his death. Ikogosi Warm Springs, the Ooni’s palace, and the OsunOsogbo Sacred Grove which also happens to be a World Heritage Center are among other artful places for you to enjoy.
About Travelbay Travelbay is an online travel agency that offers you convenient and pocket friendly holidays, allowing you buy or save towards travel packages featuring amazing destinations such as the ones listed above. For more information, visit travelbay.co
Image of South West Nigeria © Adolphus Opara Other images via TravelBay
Travel > Interview
LOLA ÅKERSTRÖM ON TRAVEL AND PHOTOGRAPHY by Ade Olakiitan
A writer and photographer, Lola Akinmade Åkerström combines two distinct art of storytelling in creating memorable impressions. She makes these otherwise involving and time-consuming process seem not just easy, but alluring. Though, originally a creative IT practitioner with fourteen years experience to show for it, Lola has eventually settled on her passion for writing and photography to convey stories as real as they come to a global audience. To this, she has achieved a highly respected name in the field of travel photography through works featured in several reputable publications internationally. Some of these publications include National Geographic Traveller, Vogue, CNN Travel, BBC, Guardian UK, and Travel Channel’s World Hum. In this interview with Ade Olakitan, Lola shares some experience from her journey as a travel photographer. Don’t miss the extracted tips for aspiring travel photographers on page eightyeight.
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Ade: What made you go into travel photography? Lola: I have always been a creative person who loves to travel. At first, photography was a means to an end. The end being to create oil paintings of places I was visiting. But then, I realized after a while that my photos could stand on their own and so I started exploring photography as another visual form and creative outlet for me. Ade: What part of travel photography do you find the most important and unknown to many? Lola: Travel photography for me is all about capturing a sense of place. But more importantly, the type of travel photography I enjoy is everyday lifestyle, cultural, and environmental travel portraits of people. My goal is to show them to the world in a respectful dignified manner and how they choose to be shown to the world. Many people know travel photography also requires a lot of early mornings out in the field, waiting for the first touch of sunlight and so on. But many may not know just how much patience is required to be a travel photographer. I can wait in the same market or area for hours just observing how people are interacting and how natural light is interacting with the scene.
Ade: Why do you combine photography with writing? Lola: Because I was a writer first and will always be a writer. Photography is my own way of visually telling the same stories I would write. Both skills complement each other wonderfully and Iâ€™m grateful to be in a position where I can do both very well. Ade: How would you describe your experience as a travel photographer for National Geographic Creative? Lola: I am represented by National Geographicâ€™s commercial agency, National Geographic Creative, which means they not only sell our photography but also pair us with commercial brands for assignments and partnerships. I also freelance for both National Geographic Traveller (US and UK versions) where I contribute articles and/or photography. Ade: Can you share your most memorable assignment working for them?
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Lola Åkerström All images courtesy Lola Åkerström
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in the Seychelles to a Scottish bagpiper on a windy day, to making eye contact with a Siberian husky to a monkey drinking Fanta. Ade: What are the things you look out for when visiting a place? Lola: My tagline is exploring culture through food, tradition, and lifestyle. So, I love exploring the cultures surrounding food, the preservation of traditions, and everyday lifestyles that fuel a culture.
Lola: I would have to say one of my most memorable experiences was being filmed on assignment in South Africa for National Geographic Channel. You can learn more about it here - http:// www.lolaakinmade.com/latest-news/now-airingon-national-geographic-channel-through-thelens-in-south-africa/ (insert as hyperlink in here) Ade: How do you plan your travels; from choosing a place to the end of the trip?
Ade: As a travel expert, what places would you recommend to anyone seeking to combine art with travel either for pleasure or for work as an artist? Lola: I believe any true artist can draw inspiration from any place they find themselves, so instead of listing out a number of places to visit, I would say, find out what your interests are and then find countries and places where that interest can be fed. Many artists flock to Italy and France for good reasons, but there are also many other countries artists can thrive. Ade: What projects are you currently working on?
Lola: Since I do this as my job, it often depends on the client as well and their needs. But I often only take on assignments that truly interest me and are in line with my focus areas as a photographer. Personally, I try to travel slow and slacken my pace. This has nothing to do with the duration of time exploring a place, but rather, the pace with which I explore the place. I usually have a solid skeletal outline of my trip from start to finish and then try to leave the middle parts as fluid as possible.
Lola: There are so many in the works right now including a photography workshop I will be teaching in Italy. I also run Slow Travel Stockholm which is dedicated to exploring Stockholm slowly - (insert as hyperlink in Slow Travel Stockholm- http://www. slowtravelstockholm). One of my major projects is NordicTB which is a collective of top travel influencers and digital storytellers in the Nordics (insert as hyperlink in NordicTB- http://www. nordictb.com).
Ade: When you look into your archive of photographs, which ones do you see as outstanding and why?
Ade: What qualities do you have that helped you to be successful in the highly competitive field of travel photography?
Lola: It is always so hard to pick favourite photos because I connect with them in different ways, from remembering the exact moment to falling in love with the composition. From portraits of fishermen
Lola: Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, being honest with yourself and being self-aware always helps. Personally, I know that I am a strong problemsolver, a team player, creative, quick study, and The Sole Adventurer Iss 01 2016
versatile. Those are my personal and professional strengths and they’ve helped me transition through many different industries as well. Ade: Are there cities or places you have developed preference for and you enjoy traveling to? Lola: I often associate human characteristics with cities I visit. Of course, putting aside the fact that they’re chock-full of living human beings who fuel certain stereotypes, I feel out cities through human temperaments. I have a soft spot for Edinburgh and love the energy of Lagos. I love exploring places with deep history and culture.
TIPS FOR AN ASPIRING TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER • Create a list of your interests for traveling. • Find countries and places where that interest can be fed. • Be patient. You will need a lot of patience to capture great moments in the places you will visit.
Ade: If I were to look into your travel bag, what are the interesting things I will find aside a camera? Lola: In addition to my camera, I always have my tiny travel laptop, a notebook with several pens, and a small toiletry bag filled with everything from a mini toothbrush to lotion, deodorant, cough drops, and more.
• Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and be self-aware.
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The Sole Adventurer art magazine, is a unique and leading voice in the coverage of what’s happening in the art scene in Nigeria and the dias...
Published on Sep 1, 2016
The Sole Adventurer art magazine, is a unique and leading voice in the coverage of what’s happening in the art scene in Nigeria and the dias...