OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4
FEATURES Iké Udé’s Glamorous Rebellion Ben Enwonwu MBE, Remembering an Icon: Twenty Years On The Lagos Art Guide Mapping Cities, Deconstructing Cultures: Contemporary Nigerian Art in a Global Lens
138 146 154 162
Nigeria’s Visual Arts Trailblazers for Intra-African Cultural Hegemony: A View from South Africa
South Africa’s Nirox Sculpture Park and Artist Foundation
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ArtTactic: The Rise of the Online Art Market Threats and Opportunities
Ask the Curator: Zoe Whitley
Letter to the Editor
ANTENNAE NEWS, EVENTS Michael Taylor, I Was Born Yesterday Kendell Geers, Crossing the Line Owusu-Ankomah, Microcron Begins LagosPhoto Festival
16 16 17 17
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FOCUS PROFILES, INTERVIEWS Sokari Douglas-Camp, CBE Ifeanyi Oganwu Gary Stephens: Documenting Moments of Nigerian History
20 26 32
Matter as Metaphor: The Art of Nnenna Okore
Demas Nwoko: Renaissance Man
MARKET FILE AUCTIONS, FAIRS, GALLERY GUIDE The Growth of the Online Market for Auction Sales
Guide to Collecting Antique Jewelery
62 67 68 76 80 86 88
Auction Calendar FNB Joburg Art Fair 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Docks Art Fair International Art Fair Calendar Gallery Listings
63 92 LIFESTYLE
As Told by Lisa Interiors Made Iconic
REVIEWS Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and Bureaucracy of Everyday Life Pangaea The Divine Comedy The Spiritual Highway
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116 120 126 132
IN THIS ISSUE...
Oliver Enwonwu is the Editor-in-Chief of Omenka magazine. He is also Chief Executive, Revilo, an art publishing company, and columnist on art as an alternative investment for Vanguard Newspaper. Enwonwu holds a first degree in Biochemistry, Advanced Diploma in Exploration Geophysics (distinction), Post Graduate Diplomas in Applied Geophysics and Visual Art (distinction) and a Masters in Art History, all from University of Lagos. He is the Executive Director of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He is a board member of the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria, and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also Director, Omenka Gallery, and President of the Society of Nigerian Artists.
Heidi Erdmann graduated from University of Stellenbosch in 1987 with a BA degree, majoring in Psychology. She has curated several exhibitions and has worked as assistant to the Director, South African National Gallery, Cape Town (1994), and Curator, AREA Gallery, (1997). Erdmann opened the Photographers Gallery za in 2001 to promote contemporary South African photography. Recently, Heidi Erdmann and Jacob Lebeko co-curated the exhibition, Construct: Beyond the Documentary Photograph, which has traveled to several museums throughout South Africa, including Durban Art Gallery and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth.
Ladun Ogidan is the Deputy Editor of Omenka magazine. She holds a first degree in Mass Communication from Covenant University, Nigeria. Ogidan is the General Manager, Revilo, an art publishing company. She is also Assistant Curator at the Omenka Gallery, and has co-ordinated several exhibitions home and abroad.
Luciano Uzuegbu holds a Bachelor of Art degree in English Language from Abia State University. He is the Senior Programme Officer of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation, a member of the curatorial team of the Omenka Gallery, as well as Contributing Editor to Omenka magazine. Since coming on board the Foundation, he has been involved in several projects including general organization of the annual lectures and various symposia.
Bomi Odufunade is a consultant at Dash & Rallo Art Advisory, a bespoke international consultancy specialising in contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. She advises on building art collections for private art collectors and corporation Her writings on art and the art market have appeared in a variety of publications, including Arise, Huffington Post, Contemporaryand and New African. She has worked at Thames & Hudson, Tate Modern and Haunch of Venison gallery in London.
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IN THIS ISSUE...
Victoria Pass is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Salisbury University in Maryland. She received her Ph.D from University of Rochester in 2011. Her dissertation Strange Glamour, examines fashion and art in the 1920s and 1930s. She holds a MA in Art History from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Art History from Boston University. She has researched and written extensively on the intersections of art and fashion. Her article, Schiaparelli’s Dark Circus appeared in the inaugural edition of Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, and her essay, Styling Globalization: Iké Udé’s Sartorial Anarchy was a part of the catalogue for Iké Udé’s exhibition, Style and Sympathy at the Leila Heller Galley in New York in 2013.
Daniela Roth, D.phil. is the Munich Editor of Omenka magazine. She completed studies in Art History, Sociology, Comparative Literature and Law at the universities of Würzburg, Bonn and München. Her doctoral thesis is on the work of artist, Romuald Hazoumè from the Republic of Benin. Roth is a specialist with extensive knowledge of the art history and has traveled widely carrying out numerous research projects and publishing extensively on art, cultural developments and pop culture, and globalization phenomena. She also contributes regularly to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on cultural issues in Africa.
Moni Agbedeh is a writer and has worked as a consultant for Compass Consultants and Creative Associates International. She was also a script writer for the TV soap by Bates Cosse titled, Melodies of the Heart. Agbedeh’s articles have been published in several high profile magazines. She has also worked as a writer for The New Awakening now Omenka magazine.
Juliet Highet trained as a photographer. She has lived in East and West Africa and India, and traveled to 52 other countries. For 40 years, she promoted the cultures of the Global South, principally Arab, Asian and African. A specialist in Middle Eastern heritage and contemporary culture, Highet has written extensively on travel, fine and performing arts, design, antiques, personalities and sociology, food and fine wines, perfumery and complementary health for numerous publications, and edited art and lifestyle books for Collins and Macmillan. She has also curated art exhibitions, worked in arts PR, given talks and presentations, and taught photography in several art schools.
Romina Provenzi is a London-based art journalist and a writer. She specializes in contemporary art with a focus on the art market. Provenzi is a specialist on the Cuban art market and on the London art scene. Her articles have appeared in several art magazines including Arts Hub, Artinvestor, Hart International and Art Info.
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Wednesday 20 May 2015 New Bond Street, London
‘Africa Now’, Bonhams auction of Contemporary African Art in London on 21 May, was a celebration of art from across the African continent. This year’s sale made a total in excess of NGN 290 million (£1million) and saw new world record prices for at least ten different African artists.
ContaCt London +44 (0) 20 7468 8216 email@example.com Nigeria +234 706 588 8666 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben enwonwu ‘Princes of Mali’ (detail) Sold for £92,5000 (NGN 25,000,000) in London, New Bond Street
IN THIS ISSUE...
Anders Petterson is a leading authority on the art market, with a particular focus on modern and contemporary emerging art markets. He is the founder and Managing Director of ArtTactic Ltd, a London-based art market research and advisory company set-up in 2001. Petterson lectures on the topic, Art as an Asset Class for CASS Business School and Sotheby’s Institute in London. He is a board member of Professional Advisors to the International Art Market (PAIAM), and a founding member of the Art Investment Council (AIC).
Silvia Pillon studied German, Russian and History of Art in Venice, Berlin and Moscow. After working for the Department of Education and Promotion at the Venice Biennale 2007, she moved to Paris where she obtained a postgraduate degree at the European School of Management – ESCP. Before joining Artlogic in 2012 as Curator of the FNB Joburg Art Fair, she worked at the French Institute in Paris as a co-ordinator of the Visual Arts Programme for the FrenchRussian Year 2010 and as Gallery Manager at Paris’ Baudoin Lebon Gallery.
Joseph Gergel is a curator at the African Artists’ Foundation and a co-curator at the LagosPhoto Festival in Lagos. Gergel received his Masters degree in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, and his Bachelors degree in Photography and the Philosophy of Images from New York University. Prior to working in Lagos, Gergel assisted in the curatorial departments at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York.
Beathur Mgoza Baker is a writer, filmmaker and curator focused on creating dynamic new platforms. Based in South Africa, she also engages in audience development within the arts, growing and connecting the African collector base within the fine and visual arts. Baker is a seasoned media professional with a background in print, journalism, television and digital media content. She is also a content specialist and former commissioning editor for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Nana Ocran is a London-based writer and editor specializing in contemporary African culture. She was Editor-in-Chief for the Time Out Group’s series of guides to Lagos and Abuja, and has consulted on, and established publications on West African culture for the Danish Film Institute, the Arts Council England and the Institute of International Visual Arts. She was also a nominee for CNN’s African Journalist of the Year in 2011, and Curatorial Advisor for the Afrofuture programme at La Rinascente during Milan Design Week 2013.
Emma Reeves is a jewelery specialist at The Auction Room, London – an online auction house that holds monthly auctions of jewelery and watches, as well as fine art. Reeves has over 12 years experience in the watches and jewelery trade having worked at Burlington Arcade and Wellers auction house. She is a Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain, where she also teaches. Reeves holds a Diamond Diploma: grading loose and set diamonds.
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FEATURES - COVER STORY
EDITORIAL Welcome to the 4th edition of Omenka magazine. ‘Omenka? is an Onitsha Ibo term? ome - is maker, traditional maker of; the maker of nka, who carves, who creates, who communicates through the making, or the making, or nka, being the attribute of his making through creative action... Omenka is usually a genius type...Omenka means greatness, a man of valour...’ -Ben Enwonwu, January 1967
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OLIVER ENWONWU email@example.com DEPUTY EDITOR OMOLADUN OGIDAN firstname.lastname@example.org JOHANNESBURG EDITOR IJEOMA UCHE-OKEKE email@example.com MUNICH EDITOR DANIELA ROTH firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTING EDITOR LUCIANO UZUEGBU ART DIRECTOR YUSUF ARIYO GRAPHIC DESIGNERS PHILIP OBAFEMI DANIEL DADEE PHOTOGRAPHER MICHAEL SOSSOU MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS REVILO CIRCULATION JAMES OJE
Cover Iké Udé Sartorial Anarchy #31, 2013 pigment on satin paper 116.1 x 92.71 cm Edition of 5, 3 AP Courtesy: Leila Heller Gallery, New York
To subscribe, please call +234 809 802 7583 or go online at www.omenkamagazine.com To advertise, please call + 234 818 455 3331
On this issue’s cover, we feature Iké Udé’s Sartoral Anarchy #31. In this photograph, he is successful in utilizing the Yoruba trousers, worn popularly between the 1940s and 1970s as a metaphor for masculinity and the Nigerian identity. Victoria Pass, Assistant Professor of Art History, Department of Art, Salisbury University pens an entertaining and insightful article, Glamorous Rebellion, which reveals Udé’s refusal to conform to contemporary codes of fashion which he describes as boring and dangerous, because of its tyranny and threat to individualism. Also discussed in this issue is the stylistic development of Nigerian art through the contributions of pioneer modernist, Ben Enwonwu, who is being celebrated twenty years after his death. His practiced paved the way for several Nigerian artists and designers, some of whom like Sokari Douglas Camp, Nnenna Okore and Ifeanyi Oganwu are featured here. All three live and practice abroad but remain rooted to the continent through their work. Beathur Mgoza Baker highlights the realities and challenges some Nigerian cultural trailblazers have faced, using South Africa as an example, a country where American artist, Gary Stephens documents elaborate Nigerian hairstyles in his elaborate drawings. We round up our scoop on Nigeria with Joseph Gergel’s Lagos Art Guide and view of contemporary art from the country through a global lens focusing on the work of 3 leading artists. Other interesting stories include a guide to collecting antique jewelry by Emma Reeves, jewelry specialist at The Auction Room, an expose on the Nirox Sculpture Park, as well as conversations with fair directors, Patricia Houg and Touria El Glaoui of Docks Art Fair and 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair respectively. They talk about their selection processes, location influences, and the determinants for measuring a fair’s overall success. In our Market File, we give you insight into the rise of the online market with deep analyses by leading art market specialists, Anders Petterson and Romina Provenzi. These and many more including exhibitions and book reviews are lined up for your reading pleasure.
Omenka is published quarterly by
Revilo Company Ltd 24, Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija) Crescent, Ikoyi Lagos, Nigeria T: + 234 818 455 3331 www.reviloco.com Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden save with express permission in writing of the publishers. All material is compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but published without responsibility for errors or omissions. Revilo accepts advertisements from advertisers believed to be of good repute, but cannot guarantee the authenticity or quality or objects or services advertised in its pages. Omenka does not assume responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations. Copyright worldwide of all editorial content is held by the publishers, Revilo Company Ltd. The name, Omenka is a registered trademark owned by Revilo Company Ltd. and cannot be used without its express written consent.
As part of our initiatives to commemorate Nigeria’s celebration of its 100th Anniversary this year, Omenka is proud to present its Centenary Issue with richly researched articles that reflect our proud history. Towards our commitment to keep our readers well informed, we have increased our print size and number of pages to 196 as Omenka keeps abreast with the latest news on contemporary visual culture from the continent.
On behalf of Omenka, I would like to thank our subscribers and sponsors for all their support and continuing patronage. I also encourage our readers to leave comments for our contributors and editors on our newly redesigned website. Here’s wishing all our readers Happy Centenary Celebrations!
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For to be
free is not merely to
cast off oneâ€™s chains, but to live in a
way that respects and enhances the
freedom of others. Nelson Mandela
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ANTENNAE - NEWS, EVENTS
MICHAEL TAYLOR I WAS BORN YESTERDAY September 3 – October 4, 2014 WHATIFTHEWORLD is pleased to present I was Born Yesterday an exhibition of new work by Michael Taylor. This new body of work sees the artist returning to the seas, a penchant metaphorical space in which Taylor unleashes his imagined characters. The work is presented in a series of large-scale drawings and painting installations. Group portraits are placed facing each other, or touching in some cases, implying a sense of similitude and the illusion of togetherness. Taylor’s work brings together different visual lexicons to challenge notions of representation and narrative art. His interpretations are fueled by a keen interest in unconventional perspectives, exaggeration, intense color use, and awkward expression. These colorful tableaux depict man as confident, youthful, and eager, reveling in his wanderlust with an ignorant, bright expression. Pervading the image surface are visible traces of preliminary sketches and movements that supplement the unlikely nature of the protagonists. Their portraits are contradictions. Figures appear devoid of certainty, with features left blank, they can be described only by their shadows and ill-coloring. www.whatiftheworld.com
Michael Taylor, Mr March (James the Great), 2014, acrylic on board, 60x40cm
KENDELL GEERS CROSSING THE LINE September 9 – October 4, 2014 Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present Kendell Geers’ fifth exhibition at the gallery, which follows his recent major retrospective at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Born in South Africa and now living in Belgium, the show’s title, Crossing the Line recalls both the journey of the artist’s cultural heritage crossing the equator and his recent move into painting. Featured in the exhibition is a new body of work made from razor wire, a material that has been a signature for the artist throughout his career. Geers describes razor wire as “The sign of my childhood, the symbol of my nation, the curse of my ancestors.” A new series of paintings features classical iconography entwined with intersecting lines and geometric shapes rendered in gold. Inspired by the Sienese painters from the thirteenth to fifteenth century, Geers interweaves the razor mesh with traditional iconography and abstract forms. The end result is a subtle meditation on the sacred and the profane, a common thread in Geers’ work.
Kendell Geers, Ligne de Fuite 7487, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 160x120cm
Crossing the Line presents a powerful and poetic new direction for the artist’s work. Simultaneously captivating and unnerving, Geers continues to push the boundaries of his practice while questioning our preconceptions of contemporary and traditional iconography. www.stephenfriedman.com
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ANTENNAE - NEWS, EVENTS
AFRICAN ARTISTS’ FOUNDATION LAGOSPHOTO FESTIVAL October 25 – November 26, 2014 From October 25 to November 26, 2014, the African Artists’ Foundation will once again host its photography festival, LagosPhoto to establish a community for contemporary photography, which will unite local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across Africa. In reflection of the theme Mastering the Selfie, photographers are expected to submit ‘selfies’ based on monthly themes; Fashion, Nightlife, Architecture and Celebrity. The organizers explained that submitted images will be uploaded to the official LagosPhoto Mobile App, where the public can view and vote on the competition. Director LagosPhoto Foundation, Wunika Mukan, said the 2014 LagosPhoto Festival would examine contemporary photographers working in Africa who toe the line between photography and truth, by incorporating conceptual practices that expand traditional photographic approaches and techniques. The 2014 theme, Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction according to Mukan, will also explore how photographers imagine different futures and charter fictive worlds using photography as a catalyst to explore the changing realities of Africa today.
Copyright: African Artists’ Foundation
OWUSU-ANKOMAH: MICROCRON BEGINS September 18 – October 25, 2014 Microcron Begins is Owusu-Ankomah’s second solo exhibition at October Gallery. Using a palette of new colors, Owusu-Ankomah’s latest work further develops these possibilities, adding further visual signs of his own invention to the customary lexicon of adinkra symbols representing a particular concept used by the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana. In the same Akan language kusum refers to sacred sites involved in the secret performances of mystery rites. Owusu-Ankomah extends his visual explorations in novel directions by developing innovative symbols, such as the Microcron – the circle of shining orbs signifying “universes inside universes,” which so entrances the figure in the image above. This unique symbolic logic yokes together ancient traditions of secret knowledge with current speculation about the mysterious nature of reality derived from theoretical physics, which predicts the parallel coexistence of multi-dimensional universes within a single multi-verse. These and other “mysteries” are embedded in the symbolic web of messages– both secret and esoteric – which beguile the inhabitants of these marvelously painted worlds. The same iconic glyphs encapsulate, for those who strive to decipher their concealed meanings further, Owusu-Ankomah’s musings on the
Owusu Ankomah, Microcron Begins No. 10, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 190x180cm Photo: Joachim Fliegner
wonders of this mysterious world replete with secret signs and alive with hidden meanings. www.octobergallery.co.uk
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The Foundation was established in 2003 in honour of celebrated Nigerian artist, Prof. Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu MBE, NNOM (1917-94). Through exhibitions, education and public debate, our mission is to increase the global perception and appreciation of modern and contemporary African art
parts of the world can respond to the same story if
People from different
it says something to them about their
own history and their own experience.
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FOCUS - PROFILE
SOKARI DOUGLAS CAMP, CBE WORDS NANA OCRAN
Back in 2008, I interviewed artist, Sokari Douglas Camp CBE for the first time. This was during the lead up to a retrospective UK exhibition of her work. We’d spoken about London, Nigeria and the impact of both places on her creativity. Her descriptions of the capital’s Nigerian “shadows”, which she saw in many of the women dressed “in full African attire, drifting through the city” always stayed with me as being her poetic way of imbibing elements of the UK landscape. Now, just over five years on, I found myself once again sitting opposite Douglas Camp in the kitchen of the wonderful studio and home that she owns in south London, and although the essence of her sculpted work still bears much of the hallmarks of a strong Nigerian influence, it’s also clear that she is entering a new and very important phase of her career. Art14, the huge annual international art exhibition at London’s Olympia was about to open when we met and Douglas Camp’s work was showing along with that of a significant number of African artists including Yinka Shonibare MBE, George Oshodi, Victor Ekpuk, Victoria Udondian and an equally impressive selection of others. She was also preparing for an important solo exhibition, All the World is Now Richer inside St Paul’s Cathedral – the seat of the Bishop of London, a building that sits at the highest point of the city. Inspired by the words of liberated ex-slave, William Prescott, the exhibition makes a bold statement about the strength of those who have traditionally been
thought of as weak, by placing them, almost defiantly, inside a venue that symbolizes a belief system that was so intrinsic to the structure of slavery. A touring exhibition, All the World was first displayed at London’s House of Commons in 2012 to commemorate the abolition of slavery. Douglas Camp’s long-term vision is to have the life-sized figures, each representing different stages of the saga of slavery placed at a permanent venue in London. To many in the UK at least, Douglas Camp is best known as the creator of the Bus, a full-scale metal-sculpted replica of a Nigerian vehicle, which was created as a living memorial to the late writer, producer and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. With metal being her material of choice, she works it like a cloth, constructing larger than life masquerade figures, sculpted African busts with heads adorned with intricately twisted geles, or studded, colored and carefully manipulated sheets that give the allusion of soft or malleable textiles. The drama of theatre has always been an influence, so body language is beginning to come out more and more in Douglas Camp’s work in what she sees as “another way of having conversations”, in styles that seem very contemporary, very global and very black. Images of footballers making heart shapes with their fingers, rap stars posing with sunglasses and arms folded are visual images that constantly stand out to her. It’s this keen eye for physical expression that influenced her
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FOCUS - PROFILE
Sokari Douglas Camp. Photo: Ininaa Camp
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FOCUS - PROFILE creation of a German-commissioned piece that links to another area of Africa – Namibia.
‘They use a head tie style that looks like battle horns, which get smaller as a women gets older’.
“I found out about Namibian people through the Internet” she explains. “I went to Bremen in northwestern Germany and sat with five curators while they described the African continent from their viewpoint. I decided, ok, from a German perspective I’d like to look at an old colony. That was Namibia and that was how I discovered the Herero people”.
This is in stark contrast to the elaborate Nigerian head wraps that Douglas Camp has so often sculpted for her female figures. “You know” she adds, “coming from Nigeria where the gele looks like a beautiful kind of orchid, this thing looks like a weapon on their head.”
Her online search uncovered a deeper understanding of the Herero dance culture and their very specific dress – both elements that speak directly to her interest in poses and body language, although in the Herero’s history, their physical identity has suffered a particular type of trauma. “It was Germany that was the first nation to practice genocide in the world, and they did this on the Herero people” she explains. “On top of that, they dressed them in this Victorian clothing, and wouldn’t allow them to be naked, which is their natural state as herdsmen”. Generations on, this “funny” clothing is still worn with layers of petticoats in what seems like a fashion time warp.
It’s an interesting example of how the act of embracing a grim episode in history can be a form of empowerment. The Herero dance influenced Douglas Camp’s creation of a life-sized sculpture, Looking for Grace, which will be on display in The State Museum in Bremen for the next 15 years. It’s a spiritually interactive piece, in that Douglas Camp’s signature steel work intentionally serves a purpose of reflecting the images of the German people who work around it – past meeting present. The importance of commissions like these don’t really need stating, particularly for a London-based artist who, like so many others, has had to adapt to changes in the museum sector. When quizzed on her auction sales, she states, “I’m not at the top of the pecking order in a marketable way” adding, “I’ve had lots of things spent on me and my
All the World is Now Richer in St Paul’s Cathedral, 2013, steel, H. 216cm x W. 560cm x D. 118cm
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FOCUS - PROFILE
Red Scarf, 2013, steel nickel, 56cm. Sold: N1,320,000 ($8,250). Arthouse Contemporary November 18, 2013 Courtesy: Arthouse Contemporary Limited
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FOCUS - PROFILE
Teasing Suicide, 2004, steel, H. 90x W. 60cm x D.100cm
career kept afloat by museums. That was my existence, but now it’s commissions and selling, so I’m a bit of a virgin really.” Despite this, she has a strong track record of showing her sculptures in over 40 shows in three continents, with an added consistency of threading global, political and cultural themes into her work. As a solo artist, the physical side of creating her pieces isn’t easy. Momentous sculptures from her portfolio of figures have included thought-provoking structures like her 2002 Bin Laden Pieta, an arguably controversial take on religious imagery, with the Virgin Mary substituted for a burkha-adorned woman holding an image of New York’s burning Twin Towers. This is a flip-sided look at maternity and womanhood that’s mirrored in her 2004 Guns Teasing Suicide structure of a pinkspattered woman holding a rifle to her mouth. The Guns piece came out of the Douglas Camp’s concern with specific
Looking for Grace, 2013, steel nickel , H. 201cm x W. 119cm x D. 73cm
things that were happening back home in Nigeria at the time. “For me, my head is where the moment is” she explains, “and the moment was my home town – the Delta in 2003 being sacked, by useless boys. We damaged ourselves so you know, Teasing Suicide is like a self-harm piece. It’s slightly kinky in that it’s a woman with a gun in her mouth. It’s like masturbation, except with violence.” The tools of Douglas Camp’s trade – imagination, political drive, personal heritage and internationalism – are spliced together in a completely individual way. There are no fleets of minions to fetch, carry or work and weld the metal she uses. All structures are purely a onewoman concern. “And I can’t delegate” she says. “Even at home in Nigeria, I can’t. I just have a chip missing, but what am I going to do about it?” However, there’s a unique way in which Douglas Camp has long been able to create stories, portray emotion, movement in her sculptures,
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FOCUS - PROFILE
All that Glitters, 2013, steel, oil barrel and gold, H. 284x W. 190 x D 123cm
and express politics and playfulness by literally bending hard material to her will. All of this was recognized in 2005 when she was honored with her Commander of the British Empire (CBE) title. “I wasn’t directly approached” she says. “A letter came, which I didn’t open at first because it looked worrying.”
walk off in the right direction.” It was a fairly swift process, but Douglas Camp remains impressed with the Prince who managed to ask about the Niger Delta and if her family was all right. “He did his homework and it made me feel really good” she says.
It was in fact an invitation to Buckingham Palace for herself and other selected honorees. “We were rehearsed by a military-type man, who was really quite fierce’, she recalls.
It’s a great story; the Prince and the artist, and it’s nicely woven into Douglas Camp’s themes of history and identity, both of these being clearly expressed in the All The World is Now Richer exhibition. It’s through this particular showcase that Douglas Camp’s campaigning spirit continues to come through.
Since the Queen was on a mission elsewhere, it was the heir apparent who was handing out the medals. “We were told how we were to walk towards Prince Charles. He’d take our hand and we were to kneel or whatever, and then as soon as your medal is slapped on your chest you’d know to get up that second, take two steps back and then
“We’re in an era of things that are ephemeral and there’s even more risk of not being remembered” she says; and in reference to her abolition piece she adds, “I feel that it’s important for me to try to make that work, because in the future, people might wonder whether we were here.”
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
IFEANYI OGANWU WORDS BOMI ODUFUNADE, IMAGES GILLES PERNET
It was no mean feat when last year New York magazineâ€™s Global Design issue selected a new generation of young furniture and product makers, naming London-based designer, Ifeanyi Oganwu as one of its rising stars. Born in 1979, in Nigeria, the young designer studied Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and the Architectural Association in London, completing his postgraduate studies at Columbia University in 2007. The following year he founded his agency, Expand Design undertaking architecture, furniture and product design. Oganwu engages in multi-faceted and functional projects, strongly influenced by digital design, engineering and an exploration of base materials. His craftsmanship engages in the abstract form using technological processes to guide his design techniques. He creates conventional furniture design, incorporating unexpected twists derived from his sustained and scholarly
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
Full Circle, 2010, composite material bench, L. 107.25 x H. 82.88 x D.122.85cm, limited edition of 20
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
engagement with architectural influences. The designer has slowly and surely been gaining attention and gathering critical praise with his work frequently appearing in group shows at design and art fairs worldwide. In this context, the logical step would have been for him to sign with one of the many famous furniture manufacturers to produce his designs. In preference, he had his first solo exhibition Look Mum, No Hands at Galerie Armel Soyer in Paris last summer, where he debuted his desk and side table collection Contoured Crater, exquisitely crafted from stacks of birch ply plates. At the recent Design Miami Basel in December, Oganwu showed a series of new designs with Gallery Priveekollektie Contemporary Art and Design based in Holland. Among the works on display was an iridescent blue boomerang-shaped chair, Milky Splice, seemingly combining the functions of art and design. Made of a fiberglass composite finished with a pearlescent white polychrome, the chair demonstrates his skillful approach in experimenting not only in form, structure, and materials but in grasping the principles of industrial design, sculpture and mixed-medium installation. Oganwu is part of a continuing tradition of architects, furniture and product designers embracing hybrid practices and adopting variable experimentation and presentation of their work. The last decade has seen a shift where the functions of art and design have amalgamated. Both British architect, Thomas Heatherwick and designer, Barber Osgerby had exhibitions with recently shuttered art gallery Haunch of Venison in London. Industrial designer, Marc Newson regularly shows with Gagosian gallery while architect and designer, Ron Arad has exhibited with Timothy Taylor gallery. The designer is a refreshing addition to the design landscape. While the contemporary art scene is booming on the African continent, contemporary design is often neglected and under appreciated. No doubt, the successful Oganwu will ignite interest and initiate dialogue on contemporary design practices.
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
Contoured Crater Desk, 2013, desk, birch, ply, stainless steel, lead ballast, L. 216.25 x H. 73.13 x D. 97.5cm, limited edition of 10
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OMENKA MAGAZINE: You trained as an architect and worked for the offices of John Ronan Architects, Chicago and Zaha Hadid Architects, London. What led you to pursue a multi-disciplinary practice in setting up a studio engaging in architecture and furniture design? IFEANYI OGANWUI: I cultivated my interest in multi-disciplinary practice while studying at London’s Architectural Association (AA) where the role of the architect is constantly being debated. At the AA, architecture took many forms, from the ephemeral to the overdetermined. After graduation I worked in the offices of AKT Structural Engineers, where I spent over five years, considerably more time than in any architecture firm. My other experiences include collaborating with fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan, so my studio allows me to synthesize my interests and experiences. Furniture design seems to hold an intense fascination with architects beginning in the early 20th century with the likes of Gerrit Rietveld, Arne Jacobsen, Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe, to present day practitioners such as Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield and Thomas Heatherwick. Why do you think this is, and what drew you to develop this practice of design? Your examples are absolutely spot on, in the early 20th century, architects developed manifestos that set out their scope of practice. I would say furniture then became an integral part of the process of creating continuity between interior and exterior, while indicating a break with historical forms and embracing new technologies. Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion and Rietveld’s Schroder House are great examples of this. In my practice, I use furniture as a medium to experiment with concepts that have architectural origins.
to conceive a product, from designing the form to the function? I’m very inspired by film, I don’t get to see much these days so I rely on my recollection to kick-start a concept or particular mood that I might be aiming for with a design. By injecting the concept with materiality and functionality, I can then push things forward. I’m also inspired when outdoors or overloaded with contemporary art. For your show in April last year at Galerie Armel Soyer in Paris, you created Contoured Crater, a desk and side table. This design illustrates how you elaborately impose new ideas of modernity in your pursuit of structure. The construction almost alludes to a blueprint for a building design, perhaps a museum in the new future. This, I am assuming, is a nod towards Futurism, the avant-garde movement founded in Milan in 1909 by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti? I closely studied Futurist works during my final year at the AA, and I’m fond of Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. Dynamism and morphology are of interest to me. When I designed the Crater desk, I was mostly preoccupied with gravity. The prototyping stage was very involved because we had carried out digital structural tests but the plastic nature of the material had other plans. The desk is literally forced into not falling over. More recently, the side table has been re-engineered for use as a bench, which lends it more
Name a building, a piece of furniture and industrial product that influenced, you, or changed your life and why? There have been several influences and life changing moments. I have wonderful memories from my undergrad years spent in Mies van der Rohe’s Chicago Crown Hall, which houses the Illinois Institute of Technology’s architecture school. Studying in the open-plan modernist masterpiece broadened my perspective as it offered me a chance to observe teaching methods and student projects across all levels of the school. On furniture influences, I find Ron Arad’s vertical series of chairs very fascinating, from the early At Your Own Risk, to the more recent Gomli. He basically reinvents the chair with these works which inhabit the space between art and design. An industrial product would have to be a dependable smartphone that allows me to work from whatever part of the world I happen to be. Most designers and architects choose famous furniture brands such as Cappellini, Cassina, Vitra or Knoll to showcase their pieces. You chose instead to work with two design galleries. Was this a conscious decision and how does it enhance or challenge your creative output? Choosing a partner works both ways, I met Armel Soyer when I presented my first collection in Milan four years ago and she has been a strong supporter, giving me my first solo show last year in her Paris gallery. Two years ago, I met Miriam and Irving van Dijk of Priveekollektie through the artist, Miguel Chevalier. A few months later, we went for it and my work has been introduced to new audiences in Basel, London, Miami and their home base of Heusden. I’ve also been working with Pascale Revert of Perimeter, formerly based in Paris and now London. Galleries offer me a platform to create experimental work that isn’t necessarily suited for the production methods of the famous furniture brands, so both outlets present different challenges. Whether, a chair, a desk or a table, what are the facets in beginning
Milky Splice, 2012, composite material stool, L. 72.95cm x D. 44.84cm x W. 77.03cm, limited edition of 20
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Splice, 2012, aluminum stool, L. 79.95 x H. 44.85 x D. 77.03cm, limited edition of 6
functionality. This was asking a lot of a byproduct assembled from offcuts of the central crater extracted from the desk. Lately, my focus has been on expressing surface through structure. I can see how one might read the crater as an architectural snapshot, perhaps as terraces looking onto a central courtyard. You are clearly motivated by ‘contemporary digital tools of the future’ in crafting your designs. This is also particularly evident in the works Full Circle (2010) and Splice (2012). The later design took two years of research and development before being produced. How do you undertake these technological processes and intricacies? Both projects are closely related in the way that compound surfaces are used to suggest multiple modes of habitation. The project timeline of two years involved going back and forth with my manufacturing partners, so we could create a work that matched the ambitions of the studio on a budget that was within reach. Understanding the manufacturing process was central to achieving this goal. You demonstrate an elegant mastery of engaging with diverse materials in creating your designs, such as with the table, Ren (2010), where you used marble for the first time. How do you begin to identify which works are created with wood, fiberglass or aluminum?
Having an understanding of the material in the early stages of concept development drives the final outcome of the design. I had worked with marble on an earlier project, which weighed about half a ton, so with Ren, my primary concern was to create an expansive functional surface without the weight. If the work was made with aluminum for example, then its overall form would be adapted to the material’s structural properties and other attributes, so the outcome would be different. What projects are you working on at the moment? I’m excited about the new projects currently under development. I’m broadening the applications of metal forming tools created last year for a wall-mounted console by inverting its design principles in order to present it as a freestanding construct. Also under development are a series of tables formed from folded planar surfaces, a large site-specific installation and a collection of very small objects. What and who would you like to design something for? It’s great to work with clients who have a very strong vision, as well as the confidence to let me create freely once I understand their needs. What are your future plans for your agency, Expand Design? The plan is to keep moving and to share the output of the studio with a broader audience.
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GARY STEPHENS: DOCUMENTING MOMENTS OF NIGERIAN HISTORY WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
South African-based American artist, Gary Stephens works in a variety of media including painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography. His works have become veritable sites to assert the African identity and have been featured in many exhibitions across the globe. As an artist straddling several continents and cultures, his creativity stems from his experiences living among societies and the people he encounters on his extensive sojourns around Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. In modern times, the social significance and personal meaning of traditional hairstyles have been forgotten. Instead, ancient styles are re-born, bearing several elements of modern fashion. Stephensâ€™ system of strings and vertical pleats are a metaphor for the influence of modernity and the spread of global capitalism on post colonial Nigeria. He raises questions of hybridity and identity as his subjects adorn sunglasses, modern earrings and decorative ornaments in their hair. His works are strongly individual, their juxtaposing, providing a sense of urgency to an immediate purpose â€“ to challenge the various stereotypes thrust on the Nigerian while addressing issues of personal identity, self discovery and history.
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Jocelynn, Scraf and Hoops, Celeste 6-10, 103 x 83 x 6
You were born in Arizona, and now live and work in Johannesburg. How do you feel about being described as an African artist, and your work as understanding Africa’s history and present? Every artist wants to feel their work contributes positively to society and will be valued, so I am quite honored by the question. I would never claim to have an understanding of Africa’s cultural history, but I am quite fascinated by its present. My work pays homage to current urban African trends in hair braiding, head scarves and how people choose to present themselves in public. I document, enjoy and hopefully raise awareness of the beauty and sense of style I observe. The ultimate compliment is when a young African friend comes to tell me about a hairstyle or hat they saw someone wearing. This makes me feel in my small way that I am contributing to people appreciating and noticing the beauty in their own culture. As Nigeria marks her centenary, how significant are your works in documenting her cultural heritage? I am very inspired by the hair styles, scarves, bling, modern fashion trends, traditional head gears, ankara wear, and designer clothing I see on the streets and in the markets of Lagos. I am fascinated by the mixture and consider this the current cultural trend in Nigeria. So I would draw a woman with traditional braids wearing designer sunglasses and consider this quite a natural reflection of urban African
culture. If my work records and documents this moment in Nigerian history and how people dress, then I am quite pleased. What draws you to a particular hairstyle? By paying attention to braid styles when I am in out in public, it brings me an extra level of enjoyment and appreciation. Nigeria is very full of inspiration for me. I try not to judge the styles but just observe how people present themselves in public. Cascades of extensions or symmetrical rows of pleating, both inspire me equally. How did you come to the decision to become an artist? I am lucky because even in first grade, I loved art and always spent hours after school making things. It’s that feeling of losing track of time while creativity takes over and working for hours without thinking. I cherish that feeling and even now, it is how I center myself and recharge. You admire the late iconic photographer, J.D. Ojeikere and exhibited with him last year in Lagos. What other artists may have influenced your work? Lately, I am studying Andy Warhol’s Pop Art. I like the way he focused on everyday aspects of culture and made people appreciate the beauty in the common. I strive to be doing that with my African work. I am also studying the work of Yaacov Agum, an Isreali artist, that made
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Braids, Earring and Sunglasses, 2012, charcoal on paper with string, 200x150cm
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Green Leaves, 2012, acrylic on ankara fabric, 137x197cm
geometric kinetic art with colors that shift when viewed from different angles. Another influence on my work is Jesus Soto, who used systems of wires and hanging rods in front of his work to create a sense of motion. All these artists have had a big influence on what I am doing at the moment.
Are you thinking of embracing other media such as video and installation in your work? My artistic ideas usually grow from earlier ideas in a natural way. I do sometimes shoot videos when I am exploring Lagos braiding culture. I love it when the braiders’ hands fly as they are wrapping, and when they use a flame to burn off the ends. This would be a nice thing to share with audiences in other parts of the world. Since I am rather shy You work in a large variety of media; printmaking, photography, charcoal, acrylic, and performance. Which is most vital to your practice, and not a performer, I hardly consider my “performances” to be actual performance art. I have a concept and I get braiders to come and and how do they work together to achieve your artistic goals? perform their skills. I have the vision of what will happen but the craft I wouldn’t say I think of one as more important than the other. I normally use photography to capture the images, so the process starts is not mine, although it complements my work. I really like that it makes me engage with braiders, and searching for the people who will braid with photos. Lately, I have been doing a lot of charcoal drawing and is part of my fun. My performances become part of how I engage with it has had a positive impact on my painting and printmaking. Nothing the culture. like black-and-white to force you to pay attention to how light hits a subject and how to create visual drama with darks and lights. I like to You’ve recently hired a huge studio of about 270m2, please tell us more experiment and push forward so I change mediums to keep myself challenged. I think they all still reflect my appreciation of modern about your recent experiments, and collaborations with other artists. African style. The performances I have orchestrated have the same Yes, this new studio is an artist’s dream with big industrial windows and message as my painting and drawing–to create appreciation for the lots of light. My work is getting larger and I am working harder as my beauty in everyday African life. Events such as wrapping a head scarf, career grows. It gives me energy when I get to show in other countries braiding hair and wearing a hat, are so common that they can become and travel to art fairs. I’ve been working towards this goal my whole life, invisible in the streets. By bringing these activities into the gallery and so now I have enough space to stand back to make several pieces setting, viewers respect and honor these beautiful parts of their at the same time and study a painting from afar. An artist’s studio is so African lives. important because you spend many hours working and want a space
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Jocelynn, Scarf and Hoops, 2014, mixed media on wood, 103x83cm
that makes you feel good. I love living in South Africa because I have many younger artist friends and we share energy and inspire each other. I plan to host my friends and invite them to come work in my space. Having a successful career is great but it is not what makes me get up in the morning. I love the creative process and making art together with others who also love art. So far, a few friends that took a stencil and graffiti workshop with me, have come for a day and we worked together. I have these huge tables that were left in the space from when it was a sewing factory-perfect for a group. My art assistant is coming on his days off, to work on a huge installation. It makes me really happy that I can offer him a space to grow his own art. I even bought a pool table at auction so after work, we can have a game and a laugh. I have space for it. Your performance piece at Art 14 drew praise and critical mention, please tell us about your challenges and motivation behind this work. The challenge was arriving in London only a few days before the fair and hiring the Nigerian women who would braid for me, and be willing travel to the fair. I was very lucky because one of the fair organizers helped me by going to Peckham to make some initial contacts. I was very pleased with the result. The braiders had that fun, out-going Nigerian spirit, so they got into having the audience watch and ask questions. It had the feel of seeing braiding in Nigeria or South
Africa; the women were chatting and laughing. I had posters with braid styles, a soundtrack with street noise and African music. The London audience seemed to really appreciate and honor the braiding tradition and that was my motivation. In Africa, braiding is an everyday sight but for the fair-goers, it was a new experience. What next for Gary Stephens? I am currently into a new series I call Afro Pop Art using stencils, graffiti and newspaper on wooden panels. The subject matter is still African but they are very colorful. I am making my own background patterns based on Nigerian ankara. A few years ago, I painted directly on ankara but now I feel like reproducing the patterns on my own. I want to show the paintings in groups of repeated images like Warhol did with Marilyn Monroe. The inspiration came from the location of my last art studio in the part of Joburg where all the graffiti artists are very active. I got very attracted and played with some spray paint. I still tend toward my usual attraction to detail, and I am spending many hours cutting very intricate stencils, which I layer. I want to eventually make some very large pieces. I plan to stay with my African themes and hope to get opportunities to travel to more African countries for residencies and to document the variety in various African cultures. At the moment, I am noticing women with headscarves â€“ how they tie them, the colors and fabric patterns. Itâ€™s a rich and very iconic African subject matter.
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MATTER AS METAPHOR: THE ART OF NNENNA OKORE WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
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When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2011, burlap, dye and acrylic, varied dimensions
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Raised in Nsukka, Nigeria, Nnenna Okore has emerged as one of the foremost artists of her generation. As a child, she was fascinated by the social, natural, and man-made conditions in bucolic dwellings around the university campus, where she resided. Okore’s techniques are observed from villagers performing their daily tasks, and at once lend to the highly evocative nature and unpredictability of her work. Her largely tactile installations are inspired by the textures, forms and colors of organic materials such as clay and wax or discarded materials like newspaper and rope. Omenka got in touch with Nnenna Okore to discuss with her about her open approach to form and media, largely manipulated by hand and alluding to the traditional African way of ‘making’ in contrast to the mechanized or technological processes of the West. OMENKA MAGAZINE: Growing up as a child in south eastern Nigeria, watching your grandmother work, you learned about important processes of creating things, which still influence your work today. When did it occur to you that you would be an artist? NNENNA OKORE: For as long as I can recall, I’ve been creatively minded and gifted. Even as a child, I was known to produce and churn out different forms of arts and crafts at such an uncontrollable rate that it was disturbing to my parents. I believe my artistic inclinations are inherent because I didn’t come to that sudden realization that I wanted to be an artist; the desire and drive were always present. How have your varied experiences, being born in Australia, raised in Nigeria, and educated in Swaziland, influenced your art? Well, I spent far less time in these other places that you mentioned, than I did in Nigeria; and therefore, I would not want to lay claims to having been sufficiently influenced by them. For instance, I was under five when my parents returned to Nigeria from Australia, and though I spent nearly 3 years in Swaziland receiving a robust and rich art education, the timing was barely adequate to grasp the cultural landscape and idiosyncrasies before my departure. Nigeria remains the place that I have had the longest contact and experience, and will continue to be my greatest source of inspiration. Despite a first class in Painting, earned at the University of Nigeria, and a Masters in Sculpture from Iowa University, your technique revolves around traditional African ways of making art. Is there a connection between conventions of Western artistic practice and your work? It’s interesting that you refer to my works as revolving around traditional African processes. I don’t necessarily perceive them in that light. But I agree that they reference some traditional practices from a craft-making standpoint. Also, the indigenous techniques adopted in my works in conjunction with materials, serve to highlight elements having
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS to do with regeneration and re-purposing of urban mundane objects into visual forms with a socio-cultural locus. I believe that my approaches have less to do with traditional or Western practices, or affiliations, and more to do with reinvention, re-appropriation and re-imagination of materials and spaces. Your work is constantly evolving from the early techniques such as sewing and weaving, to ripping, tearing and reconstituting. Are these processes just as significant as the art, and how are you able to combine these separate processes to achieve your aims? It is true that my works have evolved over time. But what really excites me is how my processes have continued to overlap and interact in an enduring manner, albeit this evolution. I sometimes find myself responding to my techniques as though they were bodily processes â€“ where multiple activities occur simultaneously or spontaneously â€“ akin to breathing and sleeping; or running, clapping and shouting. You work with discarded and found materials, reconstituting them to be relevant again. How do you conceive a piece, and what inspires you? By interacting with found objects, I am able to perceive their attributes and what they are capable of doing as art mediums. Sometimes the materials being explored yield to the disposition of the techniques applied. Other times, the materials govern the processes altogether. For instance, if the material is susceptible to being twisted, I follow its lead rather than what I may have intended for it. Many of your works are quite intricate, often involving a combination of several materials and techniques. How do you determine what the finished art would be, and do you imbibe accidental occurrences? From start to finish, the creative process for me is highly intuitive. It is not a question of knowing when to stop, but engaging deeply with the piece, such that a final resolve is eventually achieved. Like most artists, some basic ideas and sketches guide the outcome of my work. However, they do not enslave my artistic outcome. I embrace mistakes and accidents because they are the radical elements that provide depth and layered histories of visual richness. Your finished work draws from a deep understanding and knowledge of your media. What properties of each medium make it suitable to your art? I am especially drawn to the organic and
Baggage, 2008, plastic bag, 100x175x25cm
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fibrous qualities of my materials; for instance, how malleable, ethereal or transient they are. I am often curious to know which tricks they can perform outside their known function. It is the quest for discovery that allows me to connect with the medium and expose its potentials or tenacity. How permanent are the materials you employ, and ultimately the works produced from them? When it comes to the subject of permanence and durability, which I understand is a major concern for collectors, I am not particularly troubled because my materials and ideas embody the essence of ephemerality and fragility. One point I must make is that, though my works appear fragile and gossamer, with dedicated care and attention, they can stand the test of time. These materials reference history. Do you source them from particular places holding memories for you? My reference to history is less about people or place, and more about the layered memories of processes captured within the inter-layered materials. In essence, places where the materials are harvested are not often as relevant to the creative process by which the pieces are made. Your works often assume epic proportions, and you once famously quipped, I want to “animate” my space. Do you create each work alone, or with the help of assistants? Majority of the time, I create my pieces single-handedly. But hiring assistants is a reality that I have to come to terms with in the near future due to the sheer load of work I need to get done. Many of your works seem to encourage the audience to view the work from several angles, is there a particular way to view or display each work? Not necessarily. Wall pieces are obviously viewed frontally, while the spatial installations require experiential interactions – walking into, under or around the piece. In any case, my works generally promote some form of contact and interaction in order to reveal the sensual elements, like texture, color or smell. Your solo, Metamorphoses at October Gallery in 2011 remains one of your most successful exhibitions. Here, your chief interests lay in reconnecting the discarded, urban materials you employ back to nature. Many of the works themselves, are fragile and ephemeral, in reference to life’s transitory nature – aging, death, decay and decomposition. Are these aims still reflected in your present work and how far have you strayed from these concerns? I think that these issues you mentioned continue to be relevant and prominent in my recent works, though it may be lost to some people, because my latest exhibition themes have adopted more philosophical undertones, which seem to deviate from my earlier emphases. For instance, in Akaraka, the Igbo word for ‘destiny’, I reflect on the essence of human existence and how our collective experiences are shaped by physical and metaphysical phenomena. I explore ideas of interconnectedness, transience and life cycles, including birth, aging, death and decay, which are not radically distinct from the concepts explored in Metamophoses. Few artists have been able to combine an active teaching career with a thriving studio practice, how have you been able to achieve this successfully? I feel truly blessed to be able to have such a successful art practice amidst my family life and teaching responsibilities. I think it all boils
Transition, 2013, newspapers and acrylic, 100x120x12cm
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down to being extremely focused and structured, at least in my case, and making the time to accommodate the things that matter most, whether it is family or career. I also attribute my achievements to the incredible support of my family, who accommodate my unquenchable creative appetite and pursuits. You were recently in Nigeria on a Fulbright Scholar Award, where you spent some time teaching. What is your assessment of the Nigerian educational sector with particular regards to art, and how much has changed since you left Nigeria for the United States? The art climate in Nigeria is incredibly vibrant and encouraging at present. I had a wonderful and fruitful experience working with undergraduate students in the visual art programme at University of Lagos. However, my limited encounter with them gave me little exposure to the realities of the academic environment, at least not
enough to make any strong assertions about the general quality of education in Nigerian art programmes. Perhaps, if I had the opportunity of working at my alma mata, I may have had a more balanced view on this matter. But my general perceptions were that students didnâ€™t have enough infrastructural and instructional support to give them the rigorous education that was once the benchmark of Nigerian tertiary institutions. As a stopgap, I encouraged young students to discover inventive solutions to creative deficiencies by tapping into their social and natural environment. When are you back in Nigeria, and what new projects or exhibitions are you working on? My return to Nigeria remains in the plan. Presently, I am working on a series of projects and upcoming exhibitions at numerous venues including local galleries and museums.
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Fibre, 2009, yellow phone book pages and jute thread, 150x137.5x17.5cm
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RENAISSANCE MAN WORDS MONI AGBEDEH
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The Dominican Institute, Ibadan. Photo: Kelechi Amadi-Obi
Demas Nwoko like his creations, is an enigma preferring to work as an architect rather than the painter, sculptor, actor and stage designer he is. Trotting behind a much-admired father as a boy, Nwoko quickly fell in love with architecture. He was naturally gifted at art, a medium he used as a means of achieving his dream, which was to design and build. A founding member of the group, Zaria Art Society, Nwokoâ€™s distinctive style of architecture finds root in rich artistic traditions while inbibing the finest in contemporary building techniques. Back home in Idumuje, he shares his story with Moni Agbedeh.
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OMENKA MAGAZINE: You must love it here in Idumuje, how long has it been? DEMAS NWOKO: I came back to this village in 1978. I was a lecturer at University of Ibadan (UI). I was the founding Nigerian staff of the School of Drama. I left UI in 1978 after FESTAC 1977. I returned here when I built this house because I couldn’t see myself going to live in any other house. I just told my wife we’re not going back, then she asked me, where will the children go to school? So I asked her, do you think I’m good? She replied yes, then I said, maybe it’s because I went to a village school that I’m good. Didn’t you think the schools might not be the same again? But they were still the same, a village school is a village school. I told my wife to enroll our last child in an elementary school down the road. People said I was going to ruin that child but I disagreed. So he went to elementary and secondary school here in this town, unlike his siblings who attended federal schools. He went to the university after that. He’s doing well now and comes to this town almost every month because he says once he arrives in town, he sleeps well. I’m not disadvantaged here because I’m only 5 kilometers away from the transAfrican highway– away from the noise. I’m in the best place in Nigeria, and I’ve been comfortable. What was childhood like for you? I was born in Idumuje here, and I grew up all over Nigeria. At five, I left with my maternal uncle to Calabar. He worked as a postal clerk, so he was usually transferred from place to place. I started elementary school in Calabar but we never stayed in one place for more than two years. We left Calabar for Uzoakoli, which is near Umuahia and from there we moved to Enugu. Because we were moving around so much, I stayed longer in Enugu with another uncle. I was there till 1947. Then my uncle moved west to Obiahia. I remained with him from 1947 to 1948 after which he was sent to Kano. It was at that point that my mother said it was enough, and ordered me to come back home! So I came back to Idumuje in 1949 to finish my standard five and six education. In 1951, I started secondary school in Benin. After a year, I moved to the east, to a school called, Merchants of Light in Oba. That was where I finished my secondary school education before moving to Ibadan, which was the regional capital of the west. While there, I made plans to go to Zaria to study Architecture because all through my childhood, I played with the idea of building a career in architecture. One would think that art was your first love. No it was not art. Although in my secondary school I had good art teachers and was doing well in art but my interest or professional direction was towards being an architect. I loved buildings. Everywhere I went as a young person, I observed buildings. Because your father was an architect? Yes. I look very much like my father, and I think I took everything he had. I was close to him, though I was a late arrival; I’m an old person’s child. Are you the last born? Second to the last born. How many of you did he have? My father had twenty-five wives, and by the time he died, we were a hundred and ten already. He died when I was in my last year at secondary school; I was young but in the little time I spent with him
we were close. You could say that he was keeping close to me as compensation for my mum’s loss. She lost all the other male children she had before me. I was petted but I was independent. I’m still like that. So you see, if anybody was going to be stable it was me because I had everything I wanted, yet I didn’t want anything. All I could do for myself was all I wanted. Has your afro been a signature right from childhood? Teachers used to force me to cut my hair at secondary school, but when I became fully independent, nobody tried to force me to cut my hair so I let it grow. My wife used to trim it, but when she grew tired, I asked her to leave it alone and I started trimming it myself. Interestingly, when I came home to the village, I saw some old people who also had afros; they admired me. I don’t go to the barbers, so it’s convenient. Do you still paint? No, because there are no walls to hang paintings in Nigeria. No walls? Why would you say that? I say that because there are no walls! All the buildings are riddled with windows. Then we were practicing tropical architecture brought in by the expatriates. But in our traditional architecture we had walls. Contemporary architecture taught more about what they call cross ventilation with windows on both sides of the room for air to blow through. So where do you hang paintings? Meanwhile in European houses there were walls. Perhaps the idea of tropical architecture was supposed to be a way to get around the weather. Yes, it was their own tropical solution, but they did not look at the traditional architecture of the people who have been living here for thousands of years. Why should they think that these people had not solved that problem? I lived in my father’s house and I was comfortable; there were no windows and it was cool. In fact, it was so cold that we had to sleep by the fire. The English people who came here first in 1902 said they liked it here because the weather was temperate. What they meant was that it was cool. You need to look at what we have and build on it, and that is the solution to whatever challenges we may have. But what they always try to do is to educate our children with the idea that nothing was good enough before the white man came. They tell us to come and learn what they have but you find that even when our people go there, they cannot bring back what they found there because it’s not relevant here. So invariably, we have no homegrown knowledge system and if you have none, you will never develop technologically. And yes, people like me have worked for forty, fifty years and it doesn’t look like we’re moving towards the right direction, but I’ll keep working at it until they put me in the ground. I hope that people who passed through me when I was teaching at University of Ibadan, my children, and people who encountered me one way or another, will begin to work in the right direction. Until we do that, we will not have collective success. You said you loved architecture early in life, why did you pursue your interest in art ahead of architecture? Well it’s good to know that architecture is art because without the building you won’t find walls to paint on anywhere in the world. I had a natural inclination towards architecture because of my father’s influence. What he did was low-key; he used his walking stick to draw out the buildings and anybody who wanted to build in town would set it up. If you drive round this town, you’ll discover that it is well laid out
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FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
Praise Singer, oil on board, 91.4x122cm. Est: N8, 000,000–10,000,000 ($ 50,000-48,125). Sold: N7.7 million ($48,125, buyer’s premium inclusive), at Arthouse Contemporary May 22, 2010
like ancient Benin. We have avenues and streets – people build in line; every house is built fifty feet from the road. If you see any house that is near the road, it was just the recent rascals who came from Lagos to ask why are you wasting space? They say that in Lagos, the buildings are on the road. I used to follow my father to where he was laying out foundations for people, so I just knew that I would build. As for fine art, drawing and painting, we had art teachers in secondary schools and I found out that I could naturally do all that, and enjoyed studying it. But I still believed I would be an architect. After secondary school, I went to Ibadan to work in the ministry of works because architects were trained by the ministry on scholarship. First you go to Zaria, and then you come back for your practicals. So I was at the Ministry of Works, Ibadan, preparing to go to Zaria to study Architecture. Meanwhile, in that first year, I met some of the students who came from Zaria to do their practicals. I was interested in what they were doing, so I got close to them. I had been reading at the British Council, as well as the Art Council on my own. I was gaining knowledge from all over the world and preparing myself to study Architecture. I noticed some differences in what I had read about architecture and what I saw the students doing. So I concluded the training they were receiving must be limited. They were more interested in technical craftsmanship, which wasn’t my idea of architecture. A craftsman can be trained; it didn’t require five to seven years to study. I believed it was important to do the creative aspect of designing buildings, which was why I decided to go and study Fine Art. Not to end up as an artist but still as an architect. I told
myself that when I finish I can then go to study Architecture. Eventually, did you? By the time I finished, interest in theatre came in. Wole Soyinka was doing drama at UI and I was invited to design the backdrop for his play, Dance of the Forest. At that time, I saw my limits and thought it might be a good idea to go and study Theatre Design. Europe and the United States offered some of us scholarships before we even graduated, which I took advantage of. After studying Fine Art, you never grew to love it enough? Fine art looked like a personal or individual way of expression. It was limited because you drew or painted and imposed it on the public. Because of my background of public service, I thought it was too presumptuous. It couldn’t be a career, it was European. It’s a self-thing; it was contrary to the philosophy of Africa, which says that you can’t live a life of self. I couldn’t tear myself away from that public service outlook– service to the community and to humanity. So I opted for Theatre Design because it was more of a crowd thing. You couldn’t make a play alone, you needed to co-operate with others; the designer, the writer, the actors and actresses, and that was more like it for me. Then I saw too that my architectural interest was being taken care of. In building sets? In building sets and the theatre. I chose the French scholarship because
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at the time, France was the center of theatre in Paris. I did most of my paintings while I was studying in Zaria and in Paris. My interest in graphic arts was taken care of and my exposure in Paris even strengthened it. I was there when I heard that drama school was about to kick off in Nigeria, so I hurried back. I’m an activist in a way. I was one of those who were called the ‘Zaria Rebels’. Our activity was political and cultural; we were demanding that African culture should be at the center of our studies, instead of the European culture. When I got to Paris, I was hoping to see the grandeur of European theatre – the magnificent theatre buildings but to my surprise, there were problems everywhere. So I asked myself, what was I going to take from this place? Because what was available was unsuitable. What did you do? Because it was an international workshop, I felt the solution to the problem was for everybody to go home, study their own people and create theatre that would suit them. They were going to start a theatre department in Ibadan, so I rushed back because I wanted to be there from the beginning. I wanted to make sure that they started African theatre, and not European theatre. That was how I got to become the first Nigerian staff of the theatre department at University of Ibadan. I stayed there for fifteen years and I’m happy I did. So for that period of fifteen years, you were in the theatre department? Yes, doing theatre work for Nigeria. I was always preparing troupes for overseas .I took the troupe to the Olympics in Mexico, to the first Negro Art Festival in Dakar and some other places. These activities led to the production of Children of Paradise during the FESTAC ’77 event. It was when I finished that project that I said to myself, look it’s time to go home now to practice in complete freedom. Sounds like you were seeking out your own paradise, speaking of which I must ask, what was the play, Children of Paradise about? FESTAC ‘77 was like the Negro Art Festival that held in Dakar in 1966. While that was the first of its kind, FESTAC was holding for the second time. I was commissioned to do the dance; I’d already established myself as a dance teacher at University of Ibadan. Design was not enough, so I also taught Dance. Earlier in 1968, I’d been commissioned to do a dance for the Olympics in Mexico, which I did successfully. In 1966 in Dakar, I reproduced
The Wise Man, wood, 72.4cm. Est: N5, 000,000–6,000,000 ($ 32,258-38,710). Sold: N9.9 million ($61,732, buyer’s premium inclusive), at Arthouse Contemporary November 22, 2010
a play from UI called Danda, after a book by Nkem Nwankwo. I also directed and did the costume because all the other staff were European. And because I wrote the script for the dance in Mexico, I preferred to write the script for the FESTAC show. I chose the theme of the confrontation between the white culture and the black culture. They came and attacked us and we had to fight back, we fought till we had victory. There was political fighting going on in South Africa too, so I decided to use that political theme of the liberation of Africa to make a statement. After that experience you came back here and went into furniture making? Not furniture, technology. To realize
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architecture, you have to solve technological problems. I found myself immersed in it because that was the only way we could make progress. It was my own choice to drop out of theatre, after I dropped out of painting, to finally face architecture. A building like the Akenzua Cultural Center in Benin was a project I started many years ago. It was dragging, so I had to leave everything else to see how it could be finished. I had to come here and work on it, finally completing it in1993 after twenty-five years of building. I manufactured everything we used for that building including the steel roof, the furniture, and the tiles on the wall. In traditional architecture, the seats were built into the house, so you couldn’t build a house
FOCUS - INTERVIEWS
without providing seats. You must provide beds, the kitchen and kitchen furniture or a house is not functional. That’s why I decided to also make furniture to complement my work as a builder. What would you like people to remember you for? I think I have intensive contact with every human being that I come across. I learn from them and I hope they also take something away from me. I think my life is enough, it’s a product of the Creator and I think I do my best to positively impact on the world. I had a free childhood, free to explore the world, and to know more about my environment. Maybe I never understood what I was doing initially, not until it struck me that it could be a divine calling. In our tradition, everybody born has a role to play in the society. It is so serious that our people try to find out what a person’s purpose in life is through divination. Naturally in Africa, we don’t take it for granted that you’re born to serve your society in one role or another. Some of the roles you arrive at incidentally, and others by divine revelation. In African culture we also believe in destiny, something not strange in Christian philosophy. I remember an incident in 1972 when I was going to Zaria for the first time; we had a train accident just after we left Ibadan. It was called Ilalugbon train disaster, It was a serious accident but I came out unscratched. Did people die? Yes, many people died. I remember asking an aunt of mine why I survived, and she said it was because I had not yet finished what God sent me to the world to do.
The Dominican Institute, Ibadan. Photo: Kelechi Amadi-Obi
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AUCTIONS, FAIRS, GALLERY GUIDE
I am convinced that
would have been a more
developed country without the
oil. I wished weâ€™d never smelled the fumes of petroleum.
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
THE GROWTH OF THE ONLINE MARKET FOR AUCTION’S SALES
WORDS ROMINA PROVENZI
When recently the traditional auction houses started to allow phone bidding in the sales room, many were skeptic about the move. It then revealed to be a big success, with works selling naturally to bidders from all around the world on the phone. At present, a similar change is in act, with the steady growth of the online art market as a consequence of several factors such as the widespread accessibility to the Internet and the increasing confidence to purchase online for all age groups. In the last few years, several start-up auction houses began to offer online sales, and the overall number of players has more than doubled. The traditional auction houses have responded by increasing their offer of online sales, which aim to attract additional clients and expand market share. Christie’s held forty-nine online sales in 2013 and is expected to hold even more in 2014. According to a statement from Christie’s “Online-only sales totaled £13.2 million– they were a clear, key driver of attracting new buyers and increasing global accessibility to acquiring authenticated art and luxury goods. Forty-five percent of buyers on the online platform were new to Christie’s, with registrants from over 100 countries. The highest price paid for a work of art in the live auction room via Christie’s LIVETM was for Zao Wou-Ki’s 09.05.61, which realized £1.1 million. Unique visitors to Christies.com were also up 19% on 2012 with a total up to £20.6 million”. Bonhams, another well-established auction house, now receives a quarter of all bids online during auctions live in the sales rooms due
to its customized online bidding system that was designed two years ago. Of all the live bidders in 2013, about thirty-two percent had never bought at an auction before. Bonhams hasn’t introduced online only sales for now. According to Matthew Girling, Bonhams CEO for Europe and the Middle East, “When we developed our online system, we always knew this was going to be the future, but we have been surprised that it has caught on so quickly. A wide variety of auction lots including paintings, jewelery, Asian art and classic cars, have all sold well on the Internet. And the percentage of clients using Bonhams online bidding platform is growing exponentially.” Online bidding is, in fact, attracting new buyers to auctions and to their bidding systems. In the last couple of years, resources for the implementation of online art sales has been substantial with millions of pounds invested. Among many examples are Artsy that has raised $5.6m, Artspace that has reportedly raised $8.5m, as well as bringing in the Russian collector Maria Baibakova as strategic director, and Paddle8 that received an investment of $6m. Paddle8, founded in 2011 is quite representative of what’s happening in this part of the market. According to Alexander Gilkes and Aditya Julka, it aims at “transforming the way that people collect, creating an efficient marketplace for collectors to buy and sell extraordinary works of art and design through online auctions.” With the use of technology and the reach of the Internet, Paddle8 has brought a historically inefficient industry into the twenty-first century. So far Paddle8 has organized 250 online auctions, with registrars from more than 90 countries, with a growth in revenues three times more in
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
Malick Sidibé, Hercule Africain, 1970, silver gelatin print, signed and dated ‘Malick Sidibé 2011’ (lower right) 50x40cm, unique print. Est: £2,000 - £3,000. Sold: £2,232.50. The Auction Room, October 18, 2013
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El Anatsui, Coins on Grandma’s Cloth, 1992, signed and dated 1992, African hardwood, 64x140cm. Est: £26,000 - £36,000. Sold: £30,220 The Auction Room, October 18, 2013
2013 than in 2012, and with an increasing amount of bidding from the previous year. In 2013, George Bailey, former MD of Sotheby’s Europe, and Lucinda Blythe, also formerly at Sotheby’s, created The Auction Room, an online only auction house. Lucinda Blythe says that “For our new business, we had the luxury of starting it from scratch, so the website has from the start been at the heart of our business, (and in some ways is the business), we’ve not had to run a conventional auction house alongside an online entity and manage all the challenges that comes with this – so for The Auction Room, the online only option made the most sense.” Looking specifically at their sales of African art, The Auction Room, data’s shows that online sales are ideal for
selling art from emerging markets and have a unique function of bringing fresh works and emerging artists to the attention of collectors. According to Ed Cross, specialist of African art at The Auction Room, “The contemporary African art markets is particularly suited to the online format as it ensures an international reach to a not yet fully established demographic – thus allowing the market to establish itself organically rather than forcing one to establish in a particular geographic location. Photography in particular is well suited to the online format due to the fact that it looks good on-screen. Many of the photographers that we are including in the auction have become noticed through uploading their images online, and therefore it seems fitting for this auction to be a continuation of this platform for the dissemination of such raw talent from the continent.”
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
Many still feel that the lack of the possibility to view the work in person can detract serious collectors to bid at online sales. In some fields of the art market, the viewing is not strictly necessary to attract bidding and sales, as in the case of jewels or works coming from trusted collections. But often for other categories there are possibilities to arrange viewing of the works before bidding in a virtual space. According to the Hiscox Report by ArtTactic, established collectors are already buying online, and their transactions are generally based on digital images. The report states that at present â€œEuropean and US art buyers place more trust in the online art buying experience but Asian art buyers are willing to spend higher amounts.â€? Online buyers in the art market include older age groups, and men are more active buyers
and bidders than women. Since younger age groups are more inclined to purchase art online, the prediction is for an increasing amount of online bidding and art purchases in the near future, although at present, online sales are mainly carried out at price levels and between or from ÂŁ1,000 to10,000. The current activity concentrated in the lower end of the market attracts bids for paintings, limited editions prints and photography. The online market has the potential to reach a wider international audience, and expectations are set for the rise of online bidding in the middle market. It therefore, has the potential to become the main vehicle for art sales in the long run, but at the moment there is still a long way ahead to achieve this.
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MARKET FILE - COVER STORY
GUIDE TO COLLECTING ANTIQUE JEWELERY WORDS EMMA REEVES
Collecting antique jewelery can be a captivating and rewarding hobby, which recognizes the workmanship that has gone into a piece, the hours it has taken to make it — and all by hand, the enjoyment of wearing a one-off piece, and the investment the item could have in years to come. Generally, people start collecting, having inherited a fine piece of jewelery from family, which has great sentimental value and family history, or after instantaneously falling in love with a unique antique design, with the knowledge that each is a one-off piece and is made by hand. One of the first important things to understand when starting a collection, is the various periods that can commonly be found and what to look for when dating jewelery, their stones and the metals used.
Jewelery Periods: Ancient to 17th Century Jewelery found on the market today starts from ‘The Ancient World’, where jewelery was initially made from shells, stone and bones, until the discovery of working with metal. From this discovery onwards, gold became a very rare and highly soughtafter material, often used in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, although it was not until Roman times that gold jewelery was truly pure. Common pieces found on the market today include gold hoop earrings often depicting gods or animals such as rams, Roman gold intaglio rings, which are frequently inlaid with garnets or agate, and necklaces that often have leaf motifs or elaborate gold beadwork. Cameo or seal brooches were also particularly popular in Roman times as they were used to
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fasten together clothing. This can be a complex and risky period to start a collection as there are a lot of fakes on the market. However, when a genuine piece is identified, they can fetch up to £15,000 at auction and it is truly thrilling to think that they have such long history. Medieval jewelery is very popular on the market today, and people digging from around Britain often discover pieces such as Posy rings. Posy rings derive their name from the word “posy” or “poesy” – a derivative of poetry meaning short rhyme. The rings were popular from the late Medieval period onwards and were used to communicate secret messages of love between the giver and the recipient. The wearing of words against the skin was believed to increase their poignancy.
MARKET FILE - COVER STORY
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Mid Victorian 1860-1885 Romantic Period Late Victorian 1885-1901
Early Victorian Gemstones used in the early period were rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds, amethysts, pink and golden topaz, turquoise, chalcedony, coral, garnets, rubies and cameos carved from hard stones. Most Victorian jewelery was made from gold or, if set with diamonds, the setting would be made out of silver or platinum as white gold was not introduced yet. Jewelery also had naturalistic motifs consisting of bouquets of flowers, branches, leaves and berries. Other motifs included coiled snakes, love knots, arrows, hands, classical Greek and Roman designs, garlands and swags.
Sadly, very little jewelery dating from the 16th and 17th century survives today and most surviving pieces are displayed in museums, such as the items that were on view at the Cheapside exhibition in London in 2013. Religious themes were understandably popular during this period; highly ornate gemsets and enameled crosses were common, as well as mourning jewelery commemorating the dead. In the 16th century, most gems were cabochon cut, with a smooth, rounded top, or table-cut (a cabochon with the top cut off, creating a flat surface). Gemstones used were rubies, table cut diamonds and baroque pearls, while the gold work that surrounded the gems was as skilled and as esteemed as the precious stones within. Looking at portraiture from this period, it is clear that pearls were an integral part of jewelery and fashion design and often worn in several strands of varying lengths, attached to clothing, or even integrated within hairstyles.
Georgian Jewelery from this period can be found on the market, but is still very rare and when a piece comes up for auction, there will be keen interest. All jewelery from this period was handmade, and popular motifs were birds, insects, floral and scroll motifs. The most common stones used were garnets, precious topaz, coral and early faceted diamonds set in silver.
Diamonds were set in closed silver-settings and to protect the skin from tarnish, the interior of the pieces was crafted in gold. Jewelery was custom designed to suit the diamonds that were available. Stones were never specially cut for the pieces. The most common cuts used in Georgian jewelery were rose-cuts and table-cuts. You will find creative designs such as ‘en tremblant’, which is jewelery that has moving parts to create a trembling effect in the jewel when worn. Gold ‘paures’ (matching jewelery sets) were also made with ‘cannetille’ work (a close relative of Filigree), frequently set with garnets or semi-precious stones. Paste, cut-steel and Marcasite jewelery was very popular. A gold look-a-like called ‘pinch back’ was produced from copper and zinc, making jewelery less expensive and more accessible to varied classes. Popular styles of rings included flower-head clusters with a large diamond to the center, half-hoop rings set with five stones, and also rings with plaques of blue enamel decorated at the center with diamond decorative motifs.
Victorian Queen Victoria became an important influence on jewelery design. This period can be split into three categories: • Early Victorian 1837-1859
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Brooches, short necklaces and hair ornaments were popular, but not many earrings were worn as the hair completely covered the ears. Castellani of Rome was producing classically designed Roman jewelery in archaeological motifs from gold, which is very collectable today. Paures were again popular in naturalistic styles, made with coral and seed pearls with floral designs and sometimes enamel and gold.
Mid Victorian After the death of Albert, mourning jewelery was worn, which included pieces with plaited hair, urns and memorial inscriptions on rings. Earrings were back in fashion and became even longer with the use of pendants and fringes to accent length. A wide range of gemstones were used, such as garnets, amethysts, coral, crystal, enamels, diamonds, emeralds, onyx, opals, pearls, rubies, tiger claws, turquoise, sapphires, black glass, amber, jet and tortoiseshell. Popular motifs were acorns, snakes, crosses, monograms, daisies, beetles, bees, birds, flowers, hearts, masks, shells, swans, memorials and forgot-me-not sentiment jewelery, in the shape of a flower. Castellani jewelery become even more popular, known at this time for his granulated and mosaic work.
Late Victorian Trends changed in this period, the jewelery was small and lighter than before because clothing was lighter. Rings and bracelets were narrower, earrings became tiny studs and jeweled decoration was for eveningwear. Gemstones used were amethysts,
MARKET FILE - COVER STORY
aquamarines, chrysphrases, diamonds, emeralds, peridot, rubies, moonstones, chrysoberyls, opals, sapphires and turquoise. Popular motifs included crescents, Etruscan designs, stars, owls, knots, feathers, flowers, trefoil, clovers, crossover rings, double hearts with crowns, doves, Egyptian motifs, horseshoes, cats, moons, fox masks and hunting or sporting motifs. While most Victorian jewelery is associated with England, some of the finest jewelery from this period was made in France, which was particularly noted for its fine enameling.
Edwardian 1901-1914 Known as ‘the elegant period’, this was a change from the past where jewelery was often heavy and solid. In particular, diamond jewelery was now as refined as possible. The metal used was platinum, using a light and airy technique called ‘knife-edge’, inspired by the delicate imagery of the French Rococo decoration at the end of the 18th century. The fine workmanship of these pieces would not have been possible without the introduction of platinum. Popular motifs included shell and lattice motifs, swags, bows, crescents, stars, racehorses, hearts, flowers, insects and the garland style. Popular styles include ‘Sautoir’ a long rope of pearls ending in a tassel, lizard brooches, fine lace brooches and pendants. Gemstone use included diamonds, peridot, amethysts, pearls, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, opals, moonstones, mother of pearl and forms of enameling.
Art Nouveau This ‘new art’ style was cutting-edge at the time as many pieces were machine-made for the first time or finely hand made. Surface decoration was the focus with organic motifs such as dragonflies, plants, flowers snakes, lizards and maidens with flowing hair. Art Deco jewelery is highly collectable and frequently comes up at auction today. Particularly in demand at the moment are ‘pique-a-jour’ enamel pieces, the most notable designer for which, was the French jeweler, Rene Lalique. Other popular designers from this period include George Fouquet, Charles Ashbee and Fabergé.
Art Deco 1915-1935 This is perhaps the most popular period for collectors today, attracted by the colorful and geometric designs displaying a new freedom of expression. The jewelery was finely crafted and glamorous, even the costume pieces. Items included platinum diamond clips, brooches, jabot pins and ‘tutti-frutti’ jewelery – composed of rich colorful masses of carved emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds in flower, berry or leaf motifs. New shapes and cuts were introduced to the stones with geometric focus, such as hexagons, squares and lozenges. Gemstones used were; diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, black onyx, crystal, ivory, jade, coral synthetic stones and carved colored gemstones. Popular combinations included coral and diamond and diamond, onyx and rock crystal. Leading jewelers included Cartier, Jean Fouquet, Boucheron, Maubossin and Van Cleef and Arpels. In America it was Tiffany, Harry Winston, Marcus and Co, Black Star and Frost, who were the most eminent names. What is happening Today at Auction? Large and rare diamonds are increasingly appearing at auction, sourced mainly from mines in regions of Africa, India and Australia. This year, many world-record prices for diamonds have been achieved at different auction houses, including a natural pink diamond weighing 24.78cts, which sold for £29 million and an oval-cut white diamond weighing 118cts, which sold for £18 million.
Marquise Diamond and Ruby Ring Est: £4,200 - 4,800
Snake Gold and Diamond Ring Est: £1,500 - 1,800
Antique jewelery remains in strong demand and it is increasingly becoming rarer to find fine and unique pieces from Georgian to Art
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Deco. Particular styles that are doing very well are Victorian snake-motif jewelery, such as coiled rings and bracelets. Fine enamel pieces from Guilano are soughtafter and hard to find, creating high prices. For example, a fine enamel necklace recently sold for over £30,000 at auction. Jewelery Popular with Collectors: • Fine enamel pieces from Georgian to Art Deco • Lalique, Fabergé and George Fouquet • Natural pearls • Art Deco Cartier jewelery • Victorian Snake jewelery • Georgian jewelery • Tutti-Frutti jewelery • Art Deco earrings • Art Nouveau jewelery Upcoming online auction on July 22 at The Auction Room – www.theauctionroom.com Highlights include: • A fine Edwardian ruby and diamond ring, estimate: £4,200 – 4,800 • Early Victorian silver and gold mounted emerald, diamond and pearl swag necklace and bracelet in fitted box, estimate: £11,000 – 13,000 • Victorian snake ring set with a rose cut diamond, estimate: £3,000 - 4,000 • Edwardian fine lace work diamond pendant, estimate: £3,000 – 4,000 • Sugarloaf sapphire and diamond ring, estimate: £20,000 – 24,000
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JEWELLERY BONHAMS Oxford, London January 13, 2015 BONHAMS Knightsbridge, London January 14, 2015 CHRISTIE South Kensington, London January 14, 2015 FELLOWS & SONS Augusta House 19 Augusta Street Birmingham January 8, 2015
A Fine Two Strand Jadeite Bead Necklace Sold for HK$ 6,520,000 (£536,430) inc. premium Source: bonhams.com
GOODING & COMPANY Pebble Beach Auctions Pebble Beach Cncours D’ Elegance August 13-17, 2014
BONHAMS Oxford, London February 4, 2015
BONHAMS Carmel, Quail Lodge & Golf Club August 14, 2014
SOTHEBY’S New York February 5, 2015
Pebble Beach Tour D’Elegancy Presented by Rolex August 17, 2014 THE BRANSON AUCTION Hilton Hotel and Resorts United States October 17-18 , 2014
CHRISTIE South Kensington, London March 5, 2015
FINE WATCHES FELLOWS & SONS Augusta House 19 Augusta Street Birmingham August 18, 2014
FINE & RARE WINES
AUCTIONATA Berlin, Germany August 21, 2014 FELLOWS & SONS Augusta House Birmingham BONHAMS BONHAMS New Bond Street, London December 10, 2014
Blancpain Calendar Watch, Switzerland. Around 1990 Low estimate: 3,200 GBP Château Laﬁte Rothschild 1959 Sold for US$ 29,750 inc. premium
MODERN & CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART ART HOUSE CONTEMPORARY The Wheatbaker 4, Onitolo (Lawrence) Road Ikoyi, Lagos November 3, 2014
Sold for US$ 14,280 inc. premium
Japanese & Rare Wines Hong Kong Admiralty August 15, 2014
SOTHEBY’S London September 23, 2014
BONHAMS New Bond Street, London September 17, 2014
BONHAMS San Francisco September 27, 2014
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Château Laﬁte Rothschild 1982
FEATURES - COVER STORY
FNB JOBURG WORDS SILVIA PILLON
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FEATURES - COVER STORY
ART FAIR 69 OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4
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Adrian Kohler, Tophorn Puppet (War Horse). Courtesy of the National Theatre of Great Britain in Association with Handspring Puppet Company
Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, Ponte City, 2014. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery
Founded in 2008 by Ross Douglas, the FNB Joburg Art Fair is the only international art fair on the African continent and the first to focus on contemporary art from Africa. The 7th edition of the event will be held from August 22-24, 2014 at the Sandton Convention Center, in the heart of Johannesburg, Africaâ€™s financial capital.
community, collectors and art enthusiasts will experience a thoughtfully curated programme of exhibitions and talks while celebrating the fourth edition of the FNB Art Prize. The 2014 fair will see a strong focus on the Nigerian contemporary art scene with two commercial galleries (Omenka and Red Door) and two art platforms (Art Twenty One and LagosPhoto Festival) participating in the event. The fair will spearhead a diverse Joburg Art Week with various events happening around the city from August 19-24, such as open studios, gallery openings, workshops and debates.
Artlogic, the South African company running the fair, has been working hard to broaden the international reach of the event, while strengthening the local buyer-base for African contemporary art that aids talent to remain on the continent. This year, the FNB Joburg Art Fair will see more galleries from Africa and Europe participating, with seven non-South African countries represented; England, France, Germany, Spain, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Thirty-seven exhibitors have confirmed their presence, ten of which are new to the event. For the first time, a selection committee has been introduced to choose the best galleries who have applied and also invite new interesting galleries to participate. The fair is curated to give the 10,000 visitors the best possible opportunity to enjoy contemporary art in all its forms. The art
These are some of the highlights visitors to this yearâ€™s fair can expect: Invited curator, Thembinkosi Goniwe will present Dialogues with Masters: Visual Perspectives on Two Decades of Democracy. The show aims to celebrate twenty years of democracy in South Africa by inviting ten contemporary artists to respond to seminal works of South African masters like Gerard Sekoto and Ernest Mancoba. The result of this investigation will be unveiled in a dedicated booth at the fair. The show made possible, thanks to the support of Grolsch, will feature works by Georgina Gratrix, Blessing Ngobeni, Matshepo Matoba, Ziyanda Majozi, Asanda Kupa, Kanya Mehlo, Philiswa Lila, Themba
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Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, Daddy’s Shirts (The Other Country Series), 2008-2014, 60x60cm. Courtesy of the artist
Shibase, Jill Trappler and Sipho Hlati. Celebrated curator, Gabi Ncgobo has been invited to conceive a project exploring the interaction between three entities; Artist, Curator and Collector. Ngcobo engaged young artist, Megan Mace and collector, Dawood Petersen in a three-way conversation, which will be unfolded over the four days of the fair. The show, Working Title: Create, Curate, Collect. A Portrait in Three Parts, will certainly lead to some challenging frictions. The fair will host the return of the Handspring Puppet Company to South Africa with a retrospective exhibition, Fabricate, recently presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The show celebrates the company’s rich history of puppet and theater-making. Situated in the main area of the fair, the retrospective brings together all well known characters from different successful Handspring Puppet productions. Launched in 2010, LagosPhoto is the first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria. In anticipation of the 2014 edition of the Festival opening in Lagos on October 25, LagosPhoto will present at
the FNB Joburg Art Fair; the exhibition, Documenting Fiction, including a selection of artists from the upcoming Festival. The show is supported by Pirelli, which has been a Special Project sponsor for the past five years, and will showcase works by Patrick Willocq, Cristina de Middel, Genevieve Aken, Karl Ohiri, Namsa Leuba and Iké Udé. The fair will also host Peregrinate: Field notes on time travel and space, a photographic exhibition presented by the Goethe-Institut; Johannesburg. Peregrinate features the work of two South African photographers; Thabiso Sekgala and Musa Nxumalo, and Kenyan Mimi Cherono Ng’ok. Jointly curated by the featured photographers, this exhibition is the final stage for the three participants as part of the Goethe-Institut portfolio workshop, the Photographers Master Class. Initiated in 2008 by the Goethe-Institut and Simon Njami, the Master Class provides a critical platform for emerging photographers from around the continent. The Goethe-Institut has been actively involved in the fair since its inception, by facilitating the visit of international curators and collectors to the event. This year, they are supporting two exciting book launches: Just Ask! and Ponte City. The publication, Just Ask! edited
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Portia Zvavahera, Tauya Naye, 2013, oil-based printing ink on paper, 115x150cm
by Simon Njami is meant to be an introduction to contemporary African photography with a special focus on the photographers who participated in Photographers Master Class. Ponte City is dedicated to the work of Michael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse on the homonymic building in Johannesburg. The launch will be accompanied by an installation of some of the photographic works at Ponte City itself and by a panel discussion and a book-signing at the fair.
of marriage, childbirth and parental love. Her imagery is rooted in religious narratives from both the Old Testament and contemporary Pentecostal sects in Zimbabwe. This yearâ€™s prize was judged by Simon Njami, Gabi Ncgobo and Artlogic. Portia Zvavahera received R100,000, as well as a dedicated booth at the fair to showcase her winning body of work.
The 4th edition of the FNB Art Prize goes to Harare-based painter, Portia Zvavahera. The artist who represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale in 2013 as part of the exhibition, Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs, received the prize for a new body of paintings, which continue her deeply personal concerns with experiences
Performance will also be celebrated at the 2014 FNB Joburg Art Fair. Internationally acclaimed artist, Kendell Geers will direct Ritual Resist, performed during the opening night. And performer, Anthea Moys will be arm wrestling every day against fairâ€™s visitors and organizers.
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Construction Workers - conceived by Sam Nhlengethwa in collaboration with Yellowwoods Art
22 - 24 August 2014
Sandton Convention Centre #FNBJAF blog.fnb.co.za/FNBJAF First National Bank - a division of FirstRand Bank Limited
First National Bank - a division of FirstRand Bank Limited
. An Authorised Financial Services and Credit Provider (NCRCP20).
. An Authorised Financial Services and Credit Provider (NCRCP20).
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International Contemporary Art Fair dedicated to Photography and Video www.docksartfair.com firstname.lastname@example.org 74 OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4
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Galleries : Micherl Guinle Aequitas Art (La Gimond - Fr), Espace Verney Carron (Lyon – Fr), Galerie 127 (Marrakech - Ma), Galerie Bertrand Baraudou (Paris – Fr), Galerie Binôme (Paris - Fr), Galerie Dock Sud (Sète – Fr), Galerie Françoise Besson (Lyon – Fr), Galerie Houg (Lyon – Fr), Galerie l’antichambre (Chambéry - Fr), Galerie Laurent Godin (Paris - Fr), Galerie Le Réverbère (Lyon - Fr), Galerie Regards Sud (Lyon – Fr), Galerie Rothamel (Frankfurt - De), Galerie Voss (Düsseldorf – De), Galerie Vrais Rêves (Lyon – Fr), Modern Art Galerie(Lyon – Fr), Jean-Denis Walter Gallery of Sport Art (Paris-Fr), Leonhards Gallery (Antwerpen-Be), SpazioNuovo (Rome – It), Omenka Gallery (Lagos - Ng), Romberg Photo (Latina - It).
Artists : Agnès Propeck (Fr), Alice Dourenn (Fr), Aurore De Sousa (Pt), Beatrix von Conta (De), Bertrand Desprez (Fr), Carolle Bénitah (Ma), Camilla Borghese (It), Carlo D’Orta (It), Cedric Nunn (Za) Chibuike Uzoma (Ng), Claudia Rogge (De), Colin Delfosse (Be), Corinne Dubreuil (Fr), Corinne Vionnet (Fr-Ch), Daniela Edburg (Mex), Daniele Tamagni (It), David Cantera (Fr), Denis Daileux (Fr), Dider Michalet/Karen Firdmann (Fr), Dolores Marat (Fr), Dominique Clerc (Fr), Elisa Haberer (Fr), Éric Hurtado (MA) Fabien Didelot (Fr), Farida Hamak (Fr-Dz), Flore(Fr), Gabriele Rossi(It), Gérard Rancinan (Fr), Gerr y Cranham (UK), Gilles Verneret (Fr), Guillaume Collignon (Ch), Guillaume Herbaut (Fr), Hans-Christian Schink (De), Hicham Gardaf (Ma), Iwajla Klinke (De), Jacek Ludwig Scarso(PI/It), Jacques Damez (Fr), Jean-Baptiste Carhaix (Fr), Laurent Camut (Bl), LiWei (CN), Lisa Sartorio (It), Luis Mallo (Cu), Marco Barbon (It), Mark Leech (Le), Masaharu Sato (JP), Maurizio Savini (IT), Natacha Dubois Dauphin (Fr), Neil Leifer (US), Olivier Roller (Fr), Patrick Gripe (Fr), Pauce (Fr), Peter Wüthrich (De), Philippe-Live Pourcelot (FR), Pierre Emmanuel Rastoin (Fr) Santiago Espeche (Ar), Sophie Zenon (Fr), Sventlana Ostapovici (Md), Thibault Brunet (Fr), Uche James-Iroha (Ng), Vincent Olinet (Fr)
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1:54 CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART FAIR Photo: Chris Saunders
WORDS LUCIANO UZUEGBU
Born and raised in Morocco, Touria El Glaoui completed her education in New York and began her career in the banking industry as a wealth management consultant. After ten years she moved to London, where she has occupied various business development positions in the Telecom/IT industry in the Middle East and Africa. Parallel to her career, Touria El Glaoui organised and co-curated exhibitions of work by her father, revered Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui. In October 2013, she founded 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in Somerset House in London. The second edition of the successful fair will take place from October 16 - 19, 2014.
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Photo: Denzil Hugh Dean
What is your assessment of the inaugural edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair? Did you achieve your objectives? When we launched the first edition, we always mentioned that we would measure its success by the success of the galleries. All the founding galleries were satisfied and re-signed for a second year. The same galleries are now also invited to participate in international art fairs. From hindsight, what were the pitfalls, and what shall we expect in this year’s edition? The popularity of our forum; it was oversubscribed every day and some visitors were frustrated not to be able to attend some of the sessions. Even though it is a good problem to have, we are putting in place a reservation system to avoid the queue at the door. We also launching 1:54 Bookstore this year. This year’s edition will again take place during Frieze in anticipation of 70,000 visitors to London. Would you attribute 1:54’s success mainly to the momentum
gained from Frieze, and will subsequent editions continue to target periods of major events? Running the event during Frieze is a strategic decision to ensure that the artists and galleries get the best visibility and leverage on the over 70,000 visitors in London, and benefit from the presence of major private and institutional collectors. During our first edition, we attracted 6,000 visitors and we are expecting 12,000 in this second edition, taking place during Frieze. The model is working well, and therefore, we would be looking at similar scenarios to launch future events. What is your experience working with important African curators like Koyo Kouoh on the fair? Koyo Kouoh is instrumental for 1:54 not only because of her expertise but also her commitment to the fair’s success. The forum that she is curating is an important part of the fair. The four-day programme forms an axis for conversations, ideas and debate through a series of keynote lectures, artist talks, panel discussions and associate film programmes,
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that navigate critical themes and perspectives within the sphere of contemporary art, its market and institutions. What are the criteria for selecting the participating galleries? 1:54 is a young and relatively small fair. We have the capacity for 25-27 booths. Rashid Ali will design the layout of the fair. Even though we are a young fair, we have a selection committee led by our Artistic Director, Koyo Kouoh. We select galleries based in Africa and galleries from the rest of the world who work with leading African contemporary artists. The African art scene is buoyant and includes many extraordinary artists. We are aiming to display the best and most interesting artists linked to that continent in recent years. Increasingly, many African artists struggle against their geographical classification and argue that their work should be judged based on its artistic merits. In the near future, are there any plans to broaden the discourse by including art from the West? We need to go beyond labeling art from
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the continent simply as African, and think more openly about the various contexts and cultures that inform artworks. Within 1:54, we present a whole range of practitioners; some of them live on the continent while others (for whatever reason) live elsewhere. Others are based on the continent, but are not from there. Fundamentally, an artist in Africa should be free to seek his or her own identity beyond their individual ethnicity, birthplace or cultural background. How easy has it been to raise funds to sustain the fair? In many aspects with a successful first edition, it is easier; potential sponsors have more interests in the project. We are always looking for committed long-term sponsors ideally from the continent, with a genuine interest in art. Significantly, many of the galleries participating in 1:54 are based in Europe and represent African artists who practice
outside of the African continent. How would you ensure the participation of galleries based in Africa that represent leading artists who live and practice in Africa, and are alive to the continentâ€™s influences? The participating galleries at 1:54 are selected on the quality of the applications and their programme whether or not they come from Europe or the continent. How affordable is 1:54 for these Africanbased galleries and are there plans in place to encourage them, as well as, the growing number of platforms in Africa for the development of contemporary art? 1:54 since its launch has offered three free spaces for galleries from the continent. We also support the applications for grants to finance the logistics of the galleries. This is 1:54â€™s commitment to ensure the participation of some galleries based in Africa, and hopefully to support their development and generate income for their artists. The
Photo: Denzil Hugh Dean
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objective is that in time, they will be able to participate with their own means. We already have a successful one from our first edition; First Floor Gallery from Harare was invited in 2013 and we are happy to welcome them back in this second edition. Are there any conscious efforts to develop youth and cultural initiatives in Africa as part of your social responsibility? 1:54 is a young project, which I believe will have an impact in supporting the artists and their careers on the continent. Within our means, the forum of the fair is part of our conscious efforts to develop and educate youth and culture initiatives. All the sessions of the forum are available on our website and on YouTube. We hope to be able to do more in the near future. Finally, what does the future hold for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair? 1:54 taking place on the continent.
FEATURES - COVER STORY
DOCKS ART FAIR WORDS LADUN OGIDAN
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Docks Art Fair is an international contemporary art exhibition and fair founded by Olivier and Patricia Houg. It is held in Lyon, France every two years during the opening week of the Biennale of Contemporary Art, Lyon. The fair’s particular focus is on the promotion of emerging artists and solo presentations.
How did you first get involved in contemporary art, and what led you to pursue a career as a gallerist? It is thanks to my husband, Olivier Houg that the contemporary art gallery was born. As an art historian, his approach is always documented and highly transmissible. We wanted to work together. I think I am aware of my contemporaneity and for me, creativity in all its forms concerns me. Therefore, contemporary art has naturally emerged as an obvious choice. Our artistic programming is “two-headed”; my husband, with a critical eye of an art historian, and mine, more instinctive. Tell me about some of the most memorable exhibitions at Galerie Houg over the years. In a certain way, they all are, but the risks become higher as we acquire experience and the projects become more ambitious. Anyway, if I have to pick a few out, I would talk about the first exhibition of the Italian artist, Maurizio Savini, who uses pink chewing gum as the main media for his sculptures. By using this non-food with its invasive smell and playful appearance, the Italian artist-performer takes a stern look at our society. I would also talk about the exhibition for Romuald Hazoumé from Republic of Benin, who created all his artworks here in Lyon. We went to all the recycling centers together and every time, the crop of the artist was staggering. Each “mask” created from its contemporary archaeological excavations had a relevance and an incredible beauty. The exhibition of the American artist, Tim
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White-Sobieski inaugurated our space in the new district Confluence in Lyon. It was also memorable and in “resonance” with the Lyon’s Biennale of Contemporary Art. The artist made one of his largest installations with 16 videos projected onto the entire volume. This was for us, a new approach for every exhibition in the gallery, as the projects have to be made for our space. Another exhibition is by the French artist, Aurélie Petrel who trained at the School of Fine Arts of Lyon. She is more than a photographer; she is also a researcher. In her artworks, the support, volume and area are in conversation, each work revealing the architecture of the space, and of the director’s personality who hosts her. What is most striking about these artists is their cooperative work; there were no exhibition “turnkeys”. I think it is the DNA of our exhibitions. As a gallerist, at what point did you decide to establish a fair? The first edition of Docks Art Fair was in 2007 but we had been thinking about this project for many years. We wanted to show that in France, there are other market places besides Paris. Lyon hosts the Biennale of Contemporary Art; it is an essential place for professionals, collectors and artists to meet. However, an event dedicated to galleries was missing. An art market in a city promotes its cultural dynamics. What does the role of fair director entail?
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Docks Art Fair is created by gallery owners for gallery owners. We wanted to use our experience as exhibitors to provide better technical support and personalized guidance for our participants. We wanted to create a friendly and professional network. We know our territory and make sure we have the presence of all the political office holders, as well as strive to develop ties between our exhibitors and different economic and cultural players in our area. What kind of audience are you catering for at the Docks Art Fair? When the “biennale” edition holds, the fair benefits from the incoming of different art professionals and many visitors from the region, as well as France, who do not necessarily have the opportunity to visit other contemporary art fairs. With this first edition, we want to offer an annual meeting place for a public claiming this kind of event. What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get Docks Art Fair off the ground and what strategies have you adopted in sustaining it so far? In a centralized country like France, the challenge is to convince gallery owners and critics to come to Lyon, but once the first edition was over, it improved. Are there any new trends or currents in art that you can discern from what the galleries are bringing? What should we look out for? All forms of art are represented and proposed at Docks Art Fair, there is no particular trend. However, all are specific projects. Nevertheless, we realize that contemporary photography is fully legitimate for professionals and collectors. For photography, there is also another type of collector with more modest means. His motivations seem “purer” and he has a very critical and informed eye. As for every edition of Docks Art Fair, the art direction makes a selection, but does not highlight one project over the other. The visitor and collector should make their own choices based on their free will. What were the highlights of last year’s fair? The Mont Blanc / Docks Art Fair Award presented by an international jury to Vincent Olinet, who graduated from the School of Fine Art, Lyon. In your opinion was it successful? Yes. It was also successful in an economic context. Sales were at a high level, during and after the fair. However, it’s always a challenge
to keep contact with the people you meet at a fair. Gallery owners are unanimous on this point. What is your focus this year and how will you measure the fair’s overall success? This concept is totally new –three days of a fair and 3 weeks of an exhibition. I hope to highlight the role of the gallery director. Everyday, he must implement his curatorial choices with regard to funding, which most people do not think are justified. No need to copy the collection of ‘Mr Doe’ to ‘Miss Doe’; during these three weeks, we will work with this basic belief. The fair is entering its 6th year. How would you describe its growth, not just in terms of the number of galleries participating, but also its reputation outside Paris? It is a matter of self-assessment! Without exaggerating, I believe Docks Art Fair is a well known and recognized event in Paris and abroad. How would you describe the French art collector? The French collector is very curious and open. He buys works by French and several foreign artists, unlike many collectors from other countries, who are only interested in artists from their countries. The French collector is also very knowledgeable, and visits museums and exhibitions. He does not decide quickly and is very loyal to the galleries he trusts. He likes to follow up on the artists whose works are in his collection. His motivations are not yet too polluted by the notion of a speculative market, except concerning few key artists. French private collections still resemble their owners. Some collectors gradually follow the trending artists. However, there are still some hardliners who believe in low-profile artists. As a director, how do you see the rising phenomenon of art fairs all over the world? The fair has a magical effect on the collector, who runs fervently to fairs to discover the latest works before everyone else. The spectacular side of the fairs and the mass of visitors make this mode of art diffusion a very attractive one. In a single place, there are many artists whose works are visible in record time. The next inevitable “meeting point” increases the success of these events, not to mention that some artists are now only visible at art fairs. Art fairs have been an important force in creating a global art dialogue, though they may have some downsides. For example,
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MARKET FILE - FAIRS What effect does major concurrent art events have on Docks Art Fair? The project is sufficiently specific, both when organized during the biennale year and during odd years with photography and this 3- week exhibition, so there is no real rivalry. Nevertheless, France is a country that remains highly centralized and this is the challenge we face with each edition.
Patricia Houg. Photo: Didier Michalet
galleries are doing a bulk of their business at art fairs, excluding from the market, dealers who are unable to afford the punishing travel schedule, as well as booth and shipping fees. As a result, these galleries press their artists to turn out new work to meet the international fair calendar, often curtailing creative development in favor of market-ready product lines. Additionally, less of this art is shown at local galleries thus depriving local audiences. What is your opinion on these issues and how do you think they can be resolved? Of course, many “big fairs” are not financially accessible to all galleries. It is with an event like Docks Art Fair that we can answer these questions regarding cost, visibility and the local economic network. Today, many collectors buy only at fairs while making discoveries. Taking part in an art fair develops their collector-base and the number of visitors to their galleries.
Location is a critical issue in creating a successful art fair. Location in this sense does not only mean geographical, but also architectural. How did you decide on the location for the fair? There could be no better place than the Confluence district. This area has been identified since 2003 as the district of cultural events. Nuits Sonores, and Biennale of Contemporary Art have been organized there since then. The directors of this tremendous project aimed to include culture as the heart of the new district. Before we settled down at our permanent location, the headquarters of the GL-events group, built by Odile Decq, we were first installed in a tent. The greatest contemporary architects renovated entirely the Dock’s buildings; Jean Michel Wilmotte, Jacob and Mac Farlane, Odile Decq, and Rudy Ricciotti. What is the response of the French government to art and how can other
Paris is home to a number of art fairs including Paris Photo, Art Paris Art Fair, Cutlog, Contemporary Art Fair, and Slick Art Fair. How does Docks Art Fair establish its identity in relation to these, as well as the growing number of fairs all over the world? The difference with the fairs you mention is that Docks Art Fair was initially organized in Lyon during the biennale. This made it a major professional meeting and enabled its local network that explains its contemporary look. Docks Art Fair offers the emergent, novelty – numerous galleries presented their first show here in Lyon. We are committed to the project and not to the brand. We are proud to be able to promote local galleries next to international galleries, the public knows this and enjoys the programme and the international ambitions of all the artists exhibited.
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countries engage art as a tool in creating lasting social and economic value? The French government is committed to contemporary art through a network, which is now more than 30 years, Regional Contemporary Art Fund (frac) which was created for the sake of decentralization. Their purchasing and production policy has enriched the collection of over 24,000 works. Also noteworthy is the National Fund for Contemporary Art (FNAC), which now has a collection of 95,000 works. FNAC has existed since 1791 and came under the auspices of CNAP (National Center for Visual Arts) in 1982. CNAP promotes art generally. Through its public collection, FNAC it supports research and artistic innovation including artists’ first exhibition and accompanying catalogues. CNAP is also a co-producer and diffuser, and thanks to this support policy for contemporary art culture, France has large schools of fine arts including ESNBA, which is recognized globally for welcoming students from all around the world and training the artists of tomorrow. The important role of galleries and art to the economy has not been easy to sell to the government but things change and new bonds are developed and put in place.
16 – 19 October 2014 Somerset House Strand, London WC2R 1LA
INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR CALENDAR FNB Joburg Art Fair Aug 22 – 24 Sandton Convention Centre 161 Maude St Sandton, 2196 www.fnbjoburgartfair.co.za
ArtRio International Contemporary Art Fair Sep 10 - 14 Pier Mauá, Armazens 2, 3 e 4 Avenida Rodrigues Alves +552131140171 artriofair.com
Houston Fine Art Fair Sep 19 - 21 One Reliant Park, NRG Center (Reliant Center) +16312835505 houstonfineartfair.com Affordable Art Fair | New York Sep 25 - 29 269 11th Avenue (between 27th and 28th Streets) The Tunnel +12125615488 affordableartfair.com
CHART | ART FAIR Aug 29 - 31 Nyhavn 2, Kunsthal Charlottenborg +4521275687 chartartfair.com
Expo Chicago Sep 18 - 21 Navy Pier 600 East Grand Avenue +13128679220 expochicago.com
The NY Art Book Fair Sep 26 - 28 MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue +12129250325 nyartbookfair.com
Folkestone Triennial Aug 30 - Nov 2 Folkestone, Kent +441303245799 folkestonetriennial.org.uk Gwangju Biennale Sep 5 - Nov 9 10th Gwangju Biennale 111 Biennale-ro, yongbongdong, Buk-gu +82626084114 gwangjubiennale.org Docks Art Fair Sep 6 – 7 Exhibition Sep 10 – 28 Quai Rambaud, 69002 Lyon, France +33 4 78 42 98 50 docksartfair.com 20/21 British Art Fair Sep 10 - 14 Royal College of Art Kensington Gore +442087421611 britishartfair.co.uk
KIAF: Korean International Art Fair Sep 25 - 29 1F Hall A&B, Coex +82276637024 kiaf.org
ABC, Art Berlin Contemporary Sep 18 - 21 Potsdamer Str 93 +493070038771 Asia Art Fair New York Sep 16 - 21 321 East 73rd Street Bohemian National Hall +16092032342 theasiaartfair.com SUMMA Contemporary Art Fair Sep 18 - 21 Paseo de la Chopera 14 Matadero +34913697537 summafair.com
Roma Contemporary 2014 Sep 26 - 28 Macro Testaccio, two pavilions: Macro Future and Padiglione della Pelanda +390669380709 romacontemporary.it Art International Istanbul Sep 26 - 28 The Haliç Congress Centre Beyoglu, Istanbul instabulartinternational.com (e)merge Art Fair Oct 2 - 5 Capitol Skyline Hotel 10 “I” Street SW emergeartfair.com Frieze Art Fair | London Oct 16 - 19 Regent’s Park, London +442033726111 friezeartfair.com
Kinetica Art Fair Oct 16 - 19 The Old Truman Brewery Brick Lane +442073929674 kinetica-artfair.com
ARTISSIMA International Fair of Contemporary Art Nov 6 - 9 via Nizza 230/294 +3901119744106 artissima.it
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Oct 16 - 19 Somerset House, Strand +442081443694 1-54.com
Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design Fair (SOFA CHICAGO) Nov 6 - 9 600 East Grand Avenue Navy Pier Festival Hall +18005637632 sofaexpo.com
MIA Fair Oct 23 - 26 Via San Vincenzo 22 +390283241412 miafair.it YIA ART FAIR | Paris Oct 23 - 26 2 Rue Eugène Spuller, Le Carreau du Temple +33609830928 yia-artfair.com
IFPDA Print Fairs Nov 5 - 9 643 Park Avenue, Park Avenue Armory +12126746095 ifpda.org
Frieze Masters Oct 16 - 19 Regent’s Park +442033726111 friezemasters.com
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Paris Photo Nov 13 - 16 1 Avenue Géneral Eisenhower, Grand Palais +33147566469 parisphoto.com Red Dot Art Fair Dec 2 - 7 3011 NE 1st Avenue +19172738621 reddotfair.com Art Basel Miami Dec 4-7, 2014 Miami Beach artbasel.com
OMENKA GALLERY 24, Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija) Crescent Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria T: +234 8184 55331 www.omenkagallery.com
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm Saturday 10am - 4pm Nengi Omuku, Corkscrew, 2014, oil on canvas,120x90cm
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GALLERY LISTINGS CHINA Pearl Lam Galleries Shanghai G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road Shanghai, China, 200002 +86 21 6323 1989 email@example.com
www.apalazzo.net Galleria Continua San Gimignano Via del Castello 11 53037 San Gimignano +39 05 77 94 31 34 firstname.lastname@example.org www.galleriacontinua.com
COTE D’IVOIRE Cecile Fakhoury Gallery Boulevard Latrille, Cocody 06 06BP6499 Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire +225 22 44 66 77 email@example.com cecilefakhoury.com
Exhibition view: Nnenna Okore, 2011. Copyright: Jonathan Greet, Courtesy: October Gallery
84801 L’lsle sur la Sorgue cedex +33 (0) 607 26 9047 firstname.lastname@example.org
ENGLAND Fred Mann 17 Riding House Street London W1W 7DS +44 (0) 207 323 0344 email@example.com www.fred-london.com
Baudoin Lebon 8 rue Charles-Francois Dupuls 75003, Paris +33 (0)1 42 72 09 10 firstname.lastname@example.org www.baudoin-lebon.com
Jack Bell Gallery 13 Mason’s Yard, St. James’ London SW1Y 6BU +44 (0)20 7930 8999 email@example.com www.jackbellgallery.com
Caroline Smulders Only by appointment 4 rue Martel, 75010, Paris +336 09 02 66 31 firstname.lastname@example.org www.ilovemyjob.eu
October Gallery 24 Old Gloucester Street London WC 1N 3AL, UK +44 (0) 207 242 7367 email@example.com www.octobergallery.co.uk
Magnin-A 32 boulevard Voltaire 75011 Paris +33(0) 1 43 38 13 00 +33(0) 9 51 46 15 92 firstname.lastname@example.org www.magnin-a.com
GERMANY ARTCO Seilgraben 31 52062 Aachen +49 (0)24068099804 email@example.com www.artco-art.com Seippel Gallery Zeuchausstrasse 26 50667 Cologne +49 (0) 221 255 834 +27 (0) 82 299 0550 firstname.lastname@example.org www.seipel.eu
KENYA The Shifteye Gallery The Priory Place, Argwings Kodhek Road Nairobi +254 202 306 529 shifteyegallery.com ARTLabAfrica P. O. Box 83 00502 Nairobi +254 706 442 740 email@example.com
NETHERLANDS Lumen Travo Lijnbaansgracht 314 1017WZ Amsterdam +31 (0) 20 6270 883 lumentravo.nl
Rose Issa Projects 82 Great Portland Street London W1W 7NW +44 (0) 207 323 1710 firstname.lastname@example.org Gallery of African Art 9 Cork Street, London W1S 3LL. +44(0)207 287 7400 email@example.com
FRANCE Galerie Eric & Valerie Galea Bp 70013
In Sutu/Fablenne Lacierc 17-19 rue Michel le Comte 75003 Paris +331 5379 0612 +336 8138 9209 firstname.lastname@example.org www.insituparis.fr Boissy-le-Chatel 46 ru de le Fares Gaucher 77169 Boissy-le-Chatel +33(0) 1 64 20 39 50 email@example.com www.galleriacontinua.com
Nike Art Gallery
A Palazzo Gallery Piazza Tabaldo Brusato 35 25121 Brescia +39 030 3758554 +39 030 6391824 firstname.lastname@example.org
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NIGERIA African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) 54 Raymond Njoku Street Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
+27 (0)11 788 1113 +27 (0)11 788 9887 (fax) email@example.com
Smac Art Gallery Stellebosch First Floor De Wet Centre Church Street Stellebosch +27 (0)21 887 3607 Whatiftheworld Gallery 1 Argyle Road, Woodstock Cape Town, 7925 +27 (0)21 802 311 Info@whatiftheworld.com www.whatiftheworld.com
Exhibition view: Networks & Voids, Okhai Ojeikere and Gary Stephens, 2013. Courtesy: Omenka Gallery
Everard Read is South Africaâ€™s oldest commercial gallery, founded in Johannesburg in 1913
www.africanartists.org www.africanartists.org Mydrim Gallery 74B Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos +234 (01)773 9836 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mydrim.com
Thought Pyramid Art Centre 62, Parakou Crescent Wuse II, Abuja +234 (0) 803 332 2885 email@example.com www.thoughtpyramidart.com
Nike Art Gallery Nike Art Gallery, 2 Elegushi Road 3rd Roundabout after Lekki Toll Gates Lekki, Lagos +234 (1)270 5965, 803 409 6656, (0)7038822482 www.nikeart.com
Bailey Seippel Gallery African Photography Sophiatown Heritage Centre 23 Toby Street, Johannesburg +27 (0) 71 227 0910 firstname.lastname@example.org www.baileyseipel.co.za
Nimbus 9, Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos +234 (0) 706 817 6454
Barnard Gallery 55 Main Street, Newlands Cape Town 7700 +27 (0) 21 671 1553
Omenka Gallery 24 Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija), Ikoyi, Lagos +234 (0) 818 455 3331 email@example.com www.omenkagallery.com Red Door Gallery 51B Bishop Oluwole Street Victoria Island, Lagos www.reddoorgallery.com Quintessence Park View Estate Entrance Off Gerrard Road, Ikoyi +234 (1)8706371, (0)8033275401 firstname.lastname@example.org www.quintessenceltd.com Terra Kulture Plot 1376 Tiamiyu Savage Street Off Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria Island, Lagos email@example.com www.terrakulture.com
Everard Read 2 & 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank Johannesburg, 2196 + 27 (0)11 788 4896 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stevenson Buchanan Building 160 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock 7925 email@example.com +27 (0)21 462 1500
UNITED STATES Johans Borman Fine Art 16 Kildare Road, Newlands Cape Town, 7700 +27 (0) 21-683 6863 www.johansborman.co.za
Liza More & Associates Chester Court 142 Jan Smuts Avenue Parkwood, 2193 +27 (0)11 880 8802 firstname.lastname@example.org www.artspace-jhb.co.za
Brundyn + Gonsalves 71 Loop Street, Cape Town, 8001 P.O Box 15436, Vlaeberg, 8018 +27 (0)21 424 5150 email@example.com www.brundyngonsalves.com David Krut Projects 142 Jan Smuts Avenue Parkwood, Johannesburg +27 (0)11 447 0627 Infofirstname.lastname@example.org www.davidkrut.com GALLERY AOP 44 Stanley Avenue, Braamfontein Werf (Milpark), Johannesburg +27(0)11 726 2234 email@example.com www.galleryaop.com Goodman Gallery Johannesburg 163 Jan Smuts Avenue Parkwood, Johannesburg
Erdmann Contemporary 84 Kloof Street, Gardens 8001 Cape Town T +27 21 422 2762 www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za The Lovell Gallery 139 Albert Road, Woodstock Cape Town, 7925 +27 (0)21 447 5918 info@firstname.lastname@example.org www.lovellgallery.co.za Gallery MOMO 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North Johannesburg, South Africa +27 (0)11 327 3247 email@example.com www.gallerymomo.com Rooke & Van Wyk Unit 21, Frost Street Loft Braamfontein Werf Johannesburg +27 (0)83 680 4461
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M.I.A. Gallery 1203 A Second Avenue Seattle, WA 98101 +234 206 467 4927 firstname.lastname@example.org www.m-i-a-gallery.com Jack Shainman 513 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011 +1 212 645 1701 www.jackshainman.com Leila Heller Gallery 57th Street 43 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 + 212 430 5800 www.leilahellergallery.com
ZIMBABWE Empire Gallery 269 Leopold Takawira Road Kumalo, Bulawayo +263 864 409 0919 + 263 777 802 412 email@example.com First Floor Gallery Harare Suite 211-13 2nd Floor Mercury House 24 George Silundika Avenue, Harare +263 772 773 574 firstname.lastname@example.org www.firstfloorgalleryharare.com
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We celebrate over 10 years of building fine homes...
Estate / Property Development | Facilities Management | Real Estate Advisory Asphalt Road Surfacing and Repairs | Real Estate Business Plan and Evaluation 15B, Ojomu (formerly Ruxton) Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria Tel: +234 1 2695829, 4615886 www.cmbnigeria.com
AS TOLD WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
Founded by leading Lagos - based designer, Lisa Folawiyo, Jewel by Lisa is one of the most coveted luxury brands in Africa. “ A multi- faceted global womenswear and accessories collection”, the brand’s success is hinged largely on Folawiyo’s acute sense of style and her elevation of locally made wax resist dyed fabric, better known as Ankara to luxury status. In this exclusive, Folawiyo tells her story, weaving a tale of passion, determination and unwaivering faith in God.
Courtesy of Zegna
Ankara is made up of 100% cotton textiles and was originally produced in Nigeria then exported to the Gold Coast, now Ghana and spread to other parts of West and Central Africa. Popular amongst the most fashionable ladies, Ankara is often worn as uniforms to parties, weddings and other celebratory events by friends and family members to exhibit their close ties and create a most colorful event. Ankara is also used in Africa to tell folktales, a quality Folawiyo employs for her own stories– each hand crafted garment an embodiment of several layers of history, from the custom-made prints to hand embellishment with sequins, beads and crystals, by skilled craftsmen. Lisa Folawiyo’s influences growing up in a family of four are many and can be likened to the complex and varied patterns of her fabrics. She attended Adrao International School for her nursery education and then Saint Saviour’s School for primary before moving to Federal Government College, Illorin for junior secondary II and III. Folawiyo later attended Suleja Academy in Abuja for gifted children, but stayed for only two terms before completing her secondary school education at Atlantic Hall in Lagos. She recalls fond memories from her childhood, “I remember then I was about seven years old. We used to live at old Ikoyi. You know the streets were not like they are now. Then they were residential as it is supposed to be, and we used to go for long rides on our bicycles. Our parents let us go out at night to buy suya even when we were so young with a group of other kids. We rode bikes, played on the streets; it was fun. I’m not that old you know? (laughs) But it is different now.” Folawiyo earned her B.L from University of Lagos and moved on to Law School, where she gained her MLD. With no formal training as a designer, but armed with a passion for clothes and an innate sense of style, Lisa Folawiyo started her label at home after the birth of her daughter in 2005. Today, she has achieved global recognition and her work has appeared at the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week Spring/ Summer ‘10 & ’12 collections. She has also shown her work at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, as well as presented her AW ‘12/Resort ‘13
Collection at the prestigious Pitti W Tradeshow in Florence. When asked about her role models and influences, names like Duro Olowu for his clever use of African print, and Jasmine Lebon and Sienna Miller as style icons, pop up. She would also like to raid the wardrobes of Victoria Beckham, Diane Kruger and Kellies. However, Folawiyo draws her greatest inspiration from her mother. “I would proudly say my mother is a virtuous woman, as in Proverbs 31. She is very hardworking; she came from Trinidad and Tobago to settle in Nigeria and worked her way to the top of the ladder with the (Nigerian) government. She served God, and she is still serving him with all her heart; she is a giver and also a disciplinarian.” Being heavily influenced by her mum, Folawiyo is deeply religious and is passionate for God, her business and family. Her life’s philosophy is about serving God. Despite all the global attention, Folawiyo is still much the mother and family woman. She talks about when she got married, when she had her kids, and when she finished at Law School and got called to the Bar, as the high points of her life. However, fashion expert Helen Jennings observes that Jewel by Lisa came into its own when Folawiyo introduced her own custom-made Ankara-inspired prints on cotton, georgette and royal and shantung silks. Since then, Jewel by Lisa has collaborated with global brands such as Blackberry and L’Oreal, to create limited edition Blackberry phone cases and lipstick and nail polish covers, respectively. More recently, the label showcased its Spring/Summer 2013 collection in Milan at the Vogue Talent Exhibition in collaboration with Vogue Italia. With many celebrities adorning the brand, Jewel by Lisa continues to be a purveyor of sophisticated elegance and has been featured in several leading publications including The New York Times, Style.com, BBC.co.uk, MTV.co.uk, Dazeddigital.com, ModaOperandi.com, Lucky, Women’s Wear Daily, Harpersbazaar.co.uk, The Financial Times Online, Glamour Magazine, Essence, Arise, Ebony, Marie Claire, Vogue.co.uk, and Vogue.it.
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INTERIORS MADE I WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
Kitchens and bathrooms form an integral part of our lives. Nowadays, kitchens extend into our living areas. We often dash in and out of the kitchen for a quick coffee, snack, cocktail or to cook elaborate meals. Likewise, the bathroom provides a magically relaxing sterile space. When designing a kitchen, there are several aspects to consider, such as craftsmanship, quality, longevity, environmental responsibility, style and size of property, client taste and project budget. Kitchens are an investment, and have a quantifiable impact on property value. However, function should be the principal focus and determine the basic layout. Therefore, in creating an efficient workspace,
four major functions should be considered; storage, preparation, cooking, and washing. There are also numerous materials, finishes, and appliances to select from when styling a kitchen. There is an increasing use of natural materials such as grained tactile woods, stone, marble, metal and glass. Intricate detailing of cabinets can also transform a simple cupboard into a beautiful, bespoke piece of furniture. Founded by two brothers, Valter and Elvino Scavolini, Scavolini has been producing kitchens for over 50 years, responding to the tastes and trends of almost three generations of consumers.
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The company showcases a unique fusion of traditional Italian craftsmanship and innovative contemporary design. Featured in the kitchen collection are 37 iconic styles varying from the more traditional like AmĂŠlic, Alelier, Baccarat Baltimora and Belvedere to the more modern like Sax, Scenery, Tetrix, Tribe and Urban & Urban Minimal. Scavolini also offers 12 different cabinet and storage options, as well as a broad range of 51 tables and 84 dining chairs and barstools. In 2001, the company created the innovative Utility System that removes the barriers from the kitchen to ensure independence and safety. From a small workshop and launch into
LIFESTYLE Execution company” represents Scavolini exclusively in Nigeria. Kunle Dina, an interior design practitioner and author, who started his career in the finance industry at Union Bank and later Accenture, heads the company. Luca Visage also provides other services including; procurement of lights, switches, sanitary fittings, marble, granite and ceramic tiles, culture stones, security and exotic doors, and home equipment; planning; and project management. The company also boasts of an enviable clientele list with major undertakings such as ultra-luxurious townhouses and apartments in some of the most prestigious locations in Lagos and Abuja. Scavolini launched the Sunload project in 2011, a clear demonstration of the company’s growing commitment towards preserving the environment. The project involves the use of photovoltaic plants to generate annually 4,000,000 kWh for 90% of its total energy requirements.
The following year, the company presented a range of bathrooms underscoring their commitment to the tastes and requirements of different cultures. The Scavolini bathroom with its excellent concealed storage options is well known for its elegance and uncompromising attention to detail. It is marked by its array of finishes, which creates a feel of luxury and a magically relaxing sterile
business in Pesaro in 1961, Scavolini has grown to major industrial status and a benchmark for the entire industry, winning several awards including; the UNI EN ISO 9001 Quality System Certification (1996); the UNI EN ISO 14001 certification for its Environmental Management System project (2004); and the OILAS 18001:2007 Certification for management of health and safety at work. This certificate earned the company its MERIT AWARD (2008). Today, the Scavolini brand enjoys prestige and is represented by hundreds of carefully selected partners all over the world. Luca Visage, a reputable “Interior Design and
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space. Design innovation and a steadfast commitment to quality are the hallmarks of a Scavolini product, exemplified by an emphasis on hygiene with glamorous, sleek work surfaces, beautiful lighting schemes and elegant finishing touches. Scavolini through its Foundation has been committed for over twenty years to the promotion of cultural and artistic heritage by fostering and sponsoring projects supporting development and progress including the Rossini Opera Festival. In the near future predictably, Scavolini kitchens and bathrooms will continue to blend the contemporary with the traditional. Clean elegant lines combined with rich traditional materials, practical space planning and dramatic lighting schemes will ensure the ‘stage’ is set for many more brilliant performances.
Essential Interiors Magazine 96a, Island Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos www.essentialinteriorsmag.com, email@example.com, facebook/essentialinteriorsmagazine For enquiries, please contact: +234 (0) 808 315 1065, (0) 812 223 7799
manâ€™s constant effort to create for himself a different order Art is
of reality from that which is given
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COLUMNS - COVER STORY
THE RISE OF THE ONLINE ART MARKET: THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES WORDS ANDERS PETTERSON
What are the advantages of buying art online? Experience: than buying from a gallery and auction house
Affordability: online are generally more affordable
Buy/bid: to buy or bid on art online
Range on offer: online galleries and auction houses provide a larger selection of art works across different mediums and price brackets
Discovery: that I otherwise would never come across
Courtesy: The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014
New research published by Hiscox and ArtTactic estimates the online art market to be worth $1.57 billion today and is predicted to increase to $3.76 billion by 2018. In recent years, the art market has seen the emergence of a growing number of online art market places, such as Paddle8, Artspace, Artfinder, Saatchi Art and 1stdibs, LiveAuctioneer and the-Saleroom. In August last year, the online retail giant, Amazon also joined the new trend of selling art online and recently, eBay announced its re-entry into the live online
art auction market through its partnership with Invaluable.com. So what is likely to be the impact of the emergence of a growing online art market? Are these new online market places likely to disrupt traditional art auction houses, art fairs and galleries? Or are they more likely broaden and engage new art buying audiences? The digital revolution has changed the face of many creative industries, particularly for the music, film and publishing industry. Digital art
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is likely to come of age, with platforms such as Seditionart.com and with the advent of new start-ups such as Monegraph.com, which sets out to help digital artists monetize their digital creations and output. However, the real, physical art object will remain an essential part of the art market, which means that the traditional art market players such as galleries and auction houses are likely to continue to play a key role in the art market. The recent Hiscox and ArtTactic report
findings suggest that the online art e-commerce market will not exist as a separate market, but is likely to augment and co-exist with what is happening in the physical art world. Online art market places are evolving into either direct promoters of artistic talent or creativity, or aggregators for art works and collectibles from existing galleries and auction houses, or a mix of the two. Galleries and auction houses that seize the online art market opportunity, are likely to thrive, as their
Auctions hosted in a digital context only, often without public access to the works prior to sale.
Bricks and clicks
Any auction occuring both live as well as digitally, with an option to bid, and possibly pay virtually. Works may be available for inspection in person prior to sale.
Online auction aggregators
Web platforms that provide online bidding for traditional bricks and mortar auctions.
Any gallery, pure play or bricks and clicks, that offers the option to purchase works sight unseen, using a purely automated online click-to-buy system.
Inquire to buy
A version of an online gallery or auction house that lists details including price and images but does not provide an e-commerce function (bid or buy), instead facilitating an online system of inquiry for the purposes of purchasing works displayed.
A platform which allows collectors and dealers to buy and sell directly with each other.
Which price segments do the different online platforms focus on?
Online art market places – marketing and price positioning n Less than £100 n £100-£500 n £500-£1,000 n £1,000-£5,000 n £5,000-£10,000 n £10,000 -£50,000 More than £50,000
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20%
Sa at c Ex hi A r pe rti t ss im Ar tsp er Ar tsp ac 1s e td ib s Ar tsy
Source: estimates are based on the inventory presented on the above companies’ website based on paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings and prints.
Courtesy: The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014
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COLUMNS - COVER STORY
sold for millions online, but these are exceptions rather than the rule. The Hiscox report shows that 60% of art buyers who have bought paintings online paid below £5,000, 86% have bought drawings below £5,000 and 83% have bought Photography in this price segment. It is clear that the online art market has the potential of becoming a very active market place for art buyers and collectors at the lower end of the art market (below £10,000), which accounts for more than 70% of world wide art transactions.
online component becomes another part of the customer journey. Going forward it is not so much about where the sales takes place (online or offline), but rather how an online strategy could influence potential buyers to transact. Key findings from the Hisox Online Art Trade Report 2014 - which is likely to change the art market in the next 5 years: •
Click-and-buy will become the norm rather than the exception: Almost 40% of the individuals surveyed in the latest Hiscox and ArtTactic report have bought art and collectibles through clickand-buy e-commerce platforms. In the future, buying art online in this way is likely to compliment traditional channels such as buying from galleries, art fairs and auction houses. An online strategy will become essential in building relationships with the next generation of art buyers: 22% of the 20-30 years old made their first ever art purchase online, signaling that online platforms play a more important role as a destination for first-time buyers among the younger generation. In 5-10 years time, many of these individuals are likely to have become seasoned art collectors, however if one fails to build relationships with these collectors from the outset, someone else will. The sweet-spot for buying art online is between £500 and £5000: Whilst major international auction houses are chasing ultra-wealthy clients and the high-end of the art market, the online art market has found space at the lower end of the price spectrum. Yes, we do hear about the occasional record lot being
Professional services such as logistics, payment and return policies, certificate of authentication and information will ease the concerns about transacting art online: 82% of the online art buyers surveyed said the most challenging aspect of buying art online was not being able to physically inspect the object. But rapidly evolving display technologies, the advent of return polices, certificates of authenticity and improved data and information is likely to increase confidence in buying art online among future buyers.
Reputation and trust will continue to be key components for success in the online art market: Building a reputation in the art world can take years of hard work and persistence, however building brands in the online space requires a different strategy and the question is how the traditional galleries, dealers and auction houses can translate and bring its reputation and credibility into an online environment. Auction aggregators such as theSaleroom, Invaluable and LiveAuctioneer are examples of how the traditional auction model can effectively work in an online context.
What are the disadvantages of buying art online? n Buyers
n Potential buyers
Shipping: I am worried about the packaging and method of shipment Insurance: I am concerned that if the work is damaged in storage or transit will this be covered by insurance Online payments: I am uncomfortable paying larger sums of money online Quality and Provenance: there is not enough information provided about the quality and provenance of the object Returns policy: I am worried that I might not like the art work/object, and if so, whether I am able to return it Reputation of the seller: I don't trust buying from sources I don't already know Authenticity: I am afraid of buying a fake or an object which is not what it sets out to be Condition: I am not able to inspect the work and therefore worried about the physical condition Physical inspection: I am worried that the work will look different in real life compared to the digital image
Courtesy: The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014
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COLUMNS - COVER STORY
Richard Mosse, Vitage Violence, 2011. Courtesy: The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014
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COLUMNS - ASK THE CURATOR
ASK THE CURATOR WORDS BOMI ODUFUNADE
OMENKA MAGAZINE: Complete the sentence: A museum curator is... ZOE WHITLEY: Artist-led and object-based; an archivist, an editor, an interpreter, a collaborator, and hopefully – at least occasionally, a disrupter. Describe a typical day in your life as a curator. I start the day with a coffee and work emails, though I do check emails round the clock – particularly having just been working with a co-curator in a different time zone. I’m in at least two or three
meetings most days whether discussing upcoming projects and potential acquisitions with the curatorial team or checking in with assistant curators I work closely with. Unless it’s an installation period, quite a lot of the day is spent at my desk on the phone or in front of the computer. I am communicating with artists, researching the Tate permanent collection and often and just as you would in a number of desk jobs, I have files to update and spreadsheets to stay on top of; this documentation keeps tabs on all of the details that feed into the bigger picture.
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COLUMNS - ASK THE CURATOR
Installation view: The Shadows Took Shape, November 14, 2013 to March 9, 2014, The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo: Adam Reich
What project are you working on now? The exhibition, Assembly: A survey of recent artists’ film and video in Britain 2008–2013 at the museum just ended. I also co-curated The Shadows Took Shape at the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York which closed in early March this year. The show examined contemporary art through the lens of Afrofuturist aesthetics, identifying pan-African concerns with science fiction and fantasy imagery. Featuring over 60 works, the exhibition presented 29 international artists working across a variety of mediums from John
Akomfrah, Wangechi Mutu to Kiluanji Kia Henda and Khaled Hafez among others. At present, I’m enjoying that sweet, fleeting lull between projects … reading as much as I can and catching up on London gallery shows and museum exhibitions. The five items you need to curate a show are ... I’d say five key components would be 1. Stimulating art works, first and foremost; 2. Books; 3. Time to read, develop ideas and engage in dialogue with others; 4. A visual memory/ spatial awareness; and 5.
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COLUMNS - ASK THE CURATOR
Zoe Whitley. Photo: Olivia Hemingway. Copyright: Tate, London 2014
Shoes that can withstand long hours on your feet
were destroyed in a devastating fire.
Who’s your favorite living artist? My daughter.
Name your favorite 20th Century artistic movement and why? I don’t think I really have a favorite movement, but learning about German Expressionism was for sure a defining moment in my life. My history teacher, Katherine Holmes Chuba and my art teacher, Marianne Hall, introduced me to German Expressionism. At 15, I really wanted to paint like Otto Dix. I was a hopeless painter but showed some promise in art history. Ms Hall helped me design an independent study course about African-American artists in my final year. I was incredibly lucky to attend a high school where you could
What under-appreciated artist do you think people should know about? The graphic artist, Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996) – so I wrote a book about him published by Four Corners Books! What art do you wish you owned? Probably a painting by Eldzier Cortor (b.1916). Many of his early works
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COLUMNS - ASK THE CURATOR
Installation view: The Shadows Took Shape, November 14, 2013 to March 9, 2014, The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo: Adam Reich
opt-in to having the core of your school day built around studying both studio art and world history as part of a complementary curriculum.
an artist I didn’t previously know or just to work firsthand with. I’m really looking forward to Okwui Enwezor’s vision for the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Create your own ‘manifesto’ in one sentence. Art matters.
Zoe Whitley is a London-based museum curator and writer. In 2013, she authored The Graphic World of Paul Peter Piech (Four Corners Books); co-author of In Black and White: Prints from Africa and the Diaspora (V&A Publications) and she co-edited The Shadows Took Shape (Studio Museum in Harlem). Zoe is also a Ph.D candidate at the
What exhibition or biennale past or present would you like to have curated? I genuinely like experiencing art as a viewer or participant just as much as I enjoy being a curator myself. It’s such a thrill to be exposed to
University of Central Lancashire.
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COLUMNS - LETTER TO THE EDITOR
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Installation view: Cape Town Art Fair. Courtesy: Fiera Milano Group
Dear Oliver, I had the VIP pass for Art 14, London in my wallet, all set to travel to my favorite destination. But the deadlines on a book I was working on interfered with my travel plans. I was so disappointed when I discovered that you were in London participating in Art 14. All that I could think of was how much fun we could have had, wining and dining in the British capital. Back in December 1987, armed with a newly earned Bachelor of Arts degree and a copy of
Salman Rushie’s Midnights Children, I boarded The Blue Master – a large cargo ship I found docked at the Cape Town harbor. It was headed to Rotterdam, via Portugal. After handing over my passport to the captain, I ran onto the deck and excitedly waved to Andrew, my boyfriend who came to see me off. I waved to him until his orange T-shirt grew into a tiny speck. I then went to my cabin and cried for two days. I was 22 years old. I boarded that ship with no firm plan other than a need to leave South Africa. One of the crew members gave me an address in
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Islington. London enveloped me, took me on a journey and opened my mind. I saw exhibitions, Leonard Cohen and went to the Ministry of Sound, it was a love affair, exciting and unencumbered. But before I forget, let me tell you about the second edition of the Cape Town Art Fair, which incidentally was held at the end of February to coincide with the Design Indaba. For more than a decade now, the Jazz Festival at the end of March and the Design Indaba have proved to be Cape Town’s two premier events in terms of audience numbers
COLUMNS - LETTER TO THE EDITOR
and accolades. It goes without saying that it excludes any sporting events. It gets hot in February, and as the summer heat peaks, so do the visitor numbers. It is my favorite month in the city. It is also the time I see the innovative publisher, Satoru Yamashita, who never misses the Design Indaba (one of the occasions where it was inevitable, he sent a substitute). We see one another for at least half an hour, and he always brings me gifts of newly published books and a copy of his Plus 81 magazine. The art fair drew an audience of around 6,000 visitors. It is not much, internationally speaking, but not bad for Cape Town, considering it was only the second edition. Our booths were downstairs, near the main entrance, Omenka’s just twenty meters away from mine. I liked this area very much, it was uncluttered, airy and enough room to have a decent view of the works on offer. My one gripe and criticism was that some galleries got away with showcasing unsold inventory. In my opinion it is bad form – visitors pay to attend the fair.
Installation view: Cape Town Art Fair. Courtesy: Fiera Milano Group
I want this fair to succeed. So I decided to help by putting the organizer in touch with Howard Bilton, the flamboyant art collector and Hong Kong-based chairman of the Sovereign Group. I never have much success in match making – but this time around it worked. Sovereign Group has signed a threeyear sponsorship deal. I can see you frowning already Oliver? Why does an African art fair need an Englishman as a patron? I tell you what, let’s agree now to meet in Hong Kong for Art Basel. You meet Howard and decide for yourself. I am serious. But be quick, the international art calendar is relentless, as you know. When you and I met, you were curious to learn more about the most significant differences between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Without letting too many cats out of too many bags, I can safely report that if all goes according to plan, Cape Town is due to become the continent’s number one museum destination, all privately funded. I am excited about this. A museum-rich city stimulates the industry, creates jobs for curators, registrars, restorers, educators and most importantly, it develops a culture of art appreciation and an audience. It is also important for South African audiences to view their own superstar artists within the museum context, and particularly within
Installation view: Cape Town Art Fair. Courtesy: Fiera Milano Group
the proximity of works produced by their (international) peers. Commercial galleries in Cape Town have over the years, assumed the role of playing museum. It has certainly filled a gap, but it is not ideal. I will be keeping you informed about all these new developments in my next letter. I am signing off by saying congratulations, to
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your country and to mine. Happy centenary celebrations Nigeria! And to South Africa – happy, happy happiness on your twentieth! Let me know if I will see you in Hong Kong. As always, lots of love from down south,
Red Door Art Gallery
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Change will not come
if we wait
for some other person or some other time. We
are the ones weâ€™ve been
waiting for. We
are the change that we seek. Barack Obama
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REPORTS - BOOK REVIEW
RISE AND FALL OF APARTHEID: PHOTOGRAPHY AND BUREAUCRACY OF EVERYDAY LIFE WORDS NANA OCRAN
From its establishment in1948 to its dismantling in1990, South Africa’s apartheid system is given an intricate visual and narrative treatment in this huge photography book. Published in conjunction with a 2012 exhibition, Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, which took place at New York’s Center of Photography, the same-titled tome is the result of intense research by curator, Okwui Enwezor and art historian, critic and documentary filmmaker, Rory Bester. Calabar-born Enwezor has a prolific track record, which includes the role of artistic director of the second Johannesburg Biennale, artistic director of Documenta 11, Germany’s exhibition of modern and contemporary art and curator of an impressive number of international exhibitions at venues including New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Tate Modern in London and Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Currently the director of Haus der Kunst, a non-collecting art museum in Munich, his ‘breakthrough’ came in 1996 through his curation of the exhibition, In/sight at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. A showcase of thirty African photographers dating from 1940 to the mid 1990s, this was perhaps one of the roots of this latest South African photographic opus. Rise and Fall of Apartheid features images
Greame Williams, Nelson Mandela with Winnie Mandela as he is released from the Victor Vester Prison, 1990 Courtesy of the artist
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Greame Williams, Walter Sisulu and his Wife, Albertina at their Soweto home after his release from prison,1989. Courtesy of the artist
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by 83 photographers, most, but not all of South African heritage. There are some big names in there – a roll call of highly notable and mainly South African photographers, whose images have traced a diverse range of lives lived through the country’s harshest period of racially-shaped history. George Hallett, a self-confessed ‘fly-on-the-wall’ photographer has been documenting African diasporic communities since 1965. The book features some of his well-known images of the District Six area of Cape Town, a place where he himself was born, and where parts of the province had been declared white, forcing the removal of black residents, and the destruction of their property. In this book, Hallett’s 1960s portraits show the faded splendor of an area where children play on litter-strewn street corners, or ‘Corner boys’ of all ages hang out posing nonchalantly for the camera. More rural images show dancers at a jazz festival and male and female farm workers, perhaps arranged for a serene shot while taking a break. Also featured is the work of one of the dons of South African photography, Peter Magubane. Having started his career in the mid 1950s, he’d initially used a Kodak Brownie to capture political images for Drum magazine. This was a publication that focused on urban blacks and the effects of apartheid. His campaigning images of South Africa’s Treason Trial, which ran for five years from 1956 and resulted in the acquittal of all defendants charged with ‘high treason’, forms an important visual document of the persistent tension and confrontation between the apartheid regime and its wellchoreographed opposition. Magubane’s 1957 image of police struggling to hold back crowds outside the trial court is doubly significant once we realize that as a photographer, he often had to hide his camera inside hollowedout loaves of bread or empty milk cartons to escape arrest for openly carrying a camera. However, a sharp-thinking but unidentified photographer managed to capture a rare shot of Magubane being arrested in an opportunistic image that has found its way into the book. The iconic work of Eli Weinberg, a Latvian-born photographer whose anti-racist activism in South Africa led to his housearrest is documented, as is the work of José Silva, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek and Greg Marinovich – four photographers who founded the Bang Bang Club during South Africa’s transitional period of 1990-1994, recording much of the unrest that was taking place in the townships. Ernest Cole’s name is internationally known for his photographic work in capturing the day-to-day mundanity of apartheid. From racially segregated street signs
to the brutality of images of incarceration, police swoops, pass raids and the inhumanity of group medical checks, Cole is significant in visually spreading the reality of life in South Africa beyond the country’s borders. Best known for his South Africa-banned book, House of Bondage – his 1967 New York publishing deal, which he achieved having moved to that city. This was perhaps an outcome that was as great a political act as any that he would have achieved back in his own country. The photographers in the Rise and Fall of Apartheid are predominantly male, but important female names include Jodi Bieber, Jillian Edelstein, Sue Williamson, Wendy Shwegmann and Gisèle Wulfsohn. Other names include Jane Alexander, whose Faustian-styled response to the country’s apartheid and non-democratic status is shown. New York-born photographer, Margaret Bourne-White’s 1950s images of prisoners and tribesmen signing gold contracts form part of her portfolio of work under her status as the first female war correspondent, while Catherine Ross’s 1991 anti-Margaret Thatcher images highlight a new era of more outwardlyfocused rebellion from South Africa’s younger generation. It’s the work of these and all the other photographers listed in the Rise and Fall of Apartheid that may have paved the way for South Africa’s younger or up-andcoming male and female photographers or photo collectives, whose individual choices of photographic subject matter come from a long history of documenting the diverse images of the nation – even through its struggles. Whether politically motivated or not, the work of artists like Nontsikelelo Veleko or photo collective iseeadifferentyou, whose highly fashion-focused street shots that highlight black identity and urbanization have a thread that goes back to the country’s earlier days of photography when the freedom to shoot was so often off limits. The predominantly monochrome images in the Rise and Fall of Apartheid are arranged chronologically and interwoven with detailed essays that put the pernicious world of apartheid into context. Contributions come from literary scholar and cultural policy advisor, Andries Walter Oliphant, philosopher and political scientist, Achille Mbembe, Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape, Patricia Hayes, Johannesburgbased curator and writer, Khwezi Gule, and Emeritus Professor of History of Art at University of Cape Town, Michael Goodby. An essay titled Restructuring Apartheid
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Jurgen Schadeberg, Nelson Mandela, Treason Trial, 1958 Courtesy of the artist
by the late artist, writer and professor, Colin Richards states that “It was through photography that the reality of apartheid became globalized.” Whether counted as photojournalism, political documentation or street photography, the reality of the effects that South Africa’s system of racial divisions had on the country is stark. However, this isn’t a morbid book. It’s essentially a necessary and important document of a specific span of a very particular history, with the lives of the country’s citizens – both black and white – seen through the lenses of a diverse range of photographers, each presenting the country’s reality as they see it. The subjects of the images, be they migrant workers, student protesters, street cleaners, pall bearers, church goers, diplomats or nightclub dancers, each have their own stories to tell through body language, signs, placards, victory signs, laughter, sorrow, or plain and direct eye-to- camera contact. Ending significantly in 1995, post Mandela’s inauguration as president, there’s perhaps an interesting and lingering question as to what another such well-researched publication documenting the country’s ‘new democracy’ in the era before and after Mandela’s passing might look like. Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life is published by Prestel Publishing Limited and available on Prestel.com and Amazon.com.
WORDS JULIET HIGHET
Perhaps it was no coincidence that the preview party for Pangaea: New Art from Africa & Latin America was on April Fools’ Day, since the concept of Pangaea is somewhat tenuous, and most of the artists are not ‘new’, but internationally exhibited. However, there’s no denying that much of the art is cracking work, particularly the African. The title Pangaea refers to a time approximately 200 million years ago, when the continents as we know them now were all united in one single great landmass. With a gigantic crack, it split asunder into two, one of which was Gondwanaland, including Africa and South America, as well as Australia and Antarctica. At that point, South America and Africa were joined like spooning lovers as Pangaea. The name is derived from the ancient Greek pan, meaning ‘entire’ and Gaia meaning ‘Mother Earth.’ Later, in further seismic shifts, the Atlantic came between the lovers. And so, in Charles Saatchi’s London gallery, they are ‘re-united’ through their contemporary art. The exhibition’s press release tells us that there are parallels between them due to “the increasingly globalized art world”, despite their highly diverse cultures, though perhaps this is the curator’s interpretation of the “globalized art world.” Both continents of course, have suffered under slavery, colonialism, political and economic turmoil, migration, and are now experiencing incredibly rapid urbanization. Globalism, and it could be argued, urbanization favor economic over human development, and have the effect of increasing the cost of living, and widening the gap between rich and poor. Some of the creative responses of both continents express these concerns, the South American component far less than the African. But hey! In
Mário Macilau, Peace (The Zionist Series) 2010, print on cotton rag paper, 80x120cm
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REPORTS - EXHIBITION REVIEWS the “globalized art world” so does Damien Hirst, and does it matter? However, one wonders why the curatorial choice was to show almost all completely abstract work by South Americans, distancing us from meaning. And why only one woman artist in the whole show? Catalogue comment by the curator, Gabriela Salgado, borders on the incomprehensible. She describes the Chilean woman sculptor’s work thus: “Paradox traverses Alejandra Prieto’s objects and installations like an uncomfortable feeling – pregnant with pleasure.” Still, it was brave and bold of the Saatchi Gallery to devote many of its vast halls the size of an audience chamber at Buckingham Palace to just one artist. Brave and bold too were the ‘Party People’ at the preview, with glorious remixes of African prints shimmering with lurex, and crazily clashing plaits of fluorescent orange, coral and pink, creating sculptures referencing traditional sub-Saharan hairstyles. The African art at Pangaea moves and disturbs with its thoughtprovoking installations, painting and photography. Very little of it is ‘art for art’s sake,’ almost every work vibrates with social comment, criticism, and above all, human involvement. Two of the artists chronicle the turmoil and suffering of war or the anxiety and danger of township life. Ivorian Abdoubaye Diarrasouba, known as Aboudia, was caught up in the escalating violence in Abidjan which became a civil war in 2011, so much so that he was forced to take refuge in a basement. He began painting there, at times forced to stop as bullets whistled round him. Since then, his graffiti style images have spewed
forth a ghoulish record of people caught up in the conflict, not just the manic, child-like soldiers with their fearsome weaponry, but the resulting street children, as in Enfants dans la rue, whose faces are like skulls, their eyes shrieking with fear. The paintings are brutally energetic, darkly menacing, recalling Goya’s Horrors of War, as in the profoundly macabre Le Couloir de la Mort, which is predominantly black, splashed with blood red. Some are also multi-layered collages, in which photos of traditional masks, fragments of ads and comic strips, numbers and letters enigmatically surface in his vast, claustrophobic canvases. David Koloane is one of the older generation of South African artists, who, born in Johannesburg in Alexandra, one of the townships razed by the Apartheid regime, experienced the daily struggle to survive, let alone make a living as an artist. Unsurprisingly, his main subject is township life, to which he brings an oppressive intensity. In the dangerous darkness of early morning, hoards of faceless commuters leave their homes, weaving between traffic jams, and returning under the gloom of dusk. The smog of brazier fires and industrial emissions is so suffocating that buildings are blurred. But in a painting like The Night has a Thousand Eyes, those clearly visible yellow eyes belong to feral dogs, which as Koloane comments, roam “in packs like hyenas, and can be just as vicious.” In this painting, two women cling together, and in another, lovers gaze at each other. Clearly human relationships lift the weight of urban anxiety for Koloane. During the dark days of apartheid, he was a founder member of the Federated Union of Black Arts (FUBA) in Soweto, “to alleviate the virtual absence of formal tuition.”
Aboudia, Enfants dans la rue II, 2013, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 125x200cm
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Ibrahim Mahama, Untitled, 2013, Kawokudi installation with wax print panels
Every wall of a huge room at the Saatchi is covered floor to lofty ceiling with a wall-hanging by Ibrahim Mahama. The lighting is low, the atmosphere sombre, the hanging made of worn, torn, dirty old coal sacks roughly sewn together. Mahama is Ghanaian, and so far has only exhibited in Ghana, often in public places, such as Kumasi’s railway station and the Sisala Coal Market itself. The locals must wonder what’s going on. And what are we ‘art junkies’ supposed to make of this unrelentingly gloomy installation? A catalogue photo shows us that sometimes Mahama inserts areas of African printed fabric (mostly manufactured in China), which add color and pattern to the draped swathes of dark jute coal sacks. Apparently, he has investigated the conditions of supply and demand in African markets, and close inspection of the sacks reveals traces of traders’ names and distant locations. Maybe these sacks have traveled, containing more glamorous contents than coal. Do they infer the domination of international trade or poverty? Sobering reflections. A segment of Sub-Saharan photography is moving away from engaging with social challenges and human concerns and towards self-referential images, in which style is more important than substance. And again, in the “globalized art world”, why not? However, two of the artists of Pangaea hold up their camera mirrors away from themselves towards ‘real’ issues. Reflecting the experiences of a generation at the interface
between African tradition and contemporary experience, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou has been developing an ongoing portraiture series titled Citizens of Porto Novo, once a major slave port. But although Benin, Africa and the entire Global South are changing at breakneck speed, the photographs of Demoiselles de Porto Novo are still, silent, spiritual, and haunted by historical memories. They are also beautiful, two of the three in London in triptych form, referencing religious triptychs of the Renaissance and the title of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’ Avignon, whose abstraction of course, drew on the inspiration of traditional African sculpture. In the center panels, bare-breasted young women wearing African print wrappers, watch us through African masks. Is this “the Gaze” inverted? The woman on her own has languidly draped herself on a polished wood panel carved in floral European style. Photographs of long, colonnaded, tiled corridors flank the other two women. This series was shot in Agbodjelou’s home, a late 19th century colonial Portuguese-style house of fading grandeur, typical of those built by returned slaves from Brazil, some of whom became prosperous trading with the colonial regime, like Agbodjelou’s grand-father who sold their army lemonade, and whose photograph hangs on a wall of peeling paint. Photographer, Mário Macilau grew up in poverty in Mozambique, spending long periods sleeping on the street. “I had a difficult life growing up with my mother and two sisters. My mother never worked
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Vincent Michea, Before the Bigger Splash, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 130x130cm
because she was not qualified, so I started to work when I was around eight years old to help them. I still remember how our community looked down on us, and how it made me think that I can’t do anything in life, and I don’t have any talent or future. But even at that time I loved the image and could feel its power.” Eventually, he fetched up in Canada as an assistant to a photographer. Now, he says: “I use photography to educate, to tell stories of human beings, to show what has been hidden, and to make our world a better place.” “The people in my images are important to me, and I teach them about the power of images and why I’m a photographer. I usually invite them to my shows, so they can understand what I’m doing. Through my work, I am always focused on the theme of positive change across cultures. I seek to capture areas in need of transformation and improvement, as so many things in our world require it.” What gives Macilau’s images their power is not only their ability to disturb, but also their mystery and the dignity of the people in them; he does not exploit them to shock. He has been working on several long-term projects,
“which allow me to understand the stories before I even use the camera. After I’ve spent a lot of time with the people in my images, we earn each other’s trust. Then I can understand what their world is like and how it is connected to my mind and soul. I feel it in my heart and can photograph and share that world with others.” One of these projects documents the traditional religious rituals of Mozambique. Another is homelessness, in which he focuses on its effect including the lives of people who live and work in one of Maputo’s largest rubbish dumps, as well as the damage done by massive floods. The series on labor also records the dangerous conditions in cement plants. For me the best of the art at Pangaea is provocative and powerful. It digs right to the heart of the subject. But deep or kitsch, it certainly has the WOW factor. Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America shows at the Saatchi Gallery, London, until November 2, 2014.
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Boris Nzebo, Auburge du Boulot noir, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 150x130cm
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FEATURES - COVER STORY
THE DIVIN WORDS DANIELA ROTH, TRANSLATION GRETA DUNN
Kudzanai Chiurai, Iyeza, 2012, film still. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery
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NE COMEDY 127 OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4
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We have always thought that heaven is above and hell below. However, this is not so in the MMK, the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where from March 2014, a large exhibition opened and will subsequently journey around the world. Fifty artists, who are connected in some way with the African continent, take part in the exhibition, The Divine Comedy. Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists. The next venue is the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, United States, and then to an African country. On three floors over which “paradise” (heaven – ground floor), purgatory and hell (right at the top) are arranged, the curators present on 4,200 square meters (almost an acre), works employing a broad range of media; painting, photography, sculpture, video works, installations and performances. Twenty-three new productions have been created, but one encounters old acquaintances such as Yinka Shonibare’s How to Blow up Two Heads at Once (Gentlemen) from 2006 or Jems Robert Koko Bi’s Convoi Royal from 2007. As far back as three years ago curator, Simon Njami approached the director, Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer with the idea for the exhibition. Swiss-born Njami had already organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary African art, among them the African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2007 and the exhibition area of the FNB Joburg Art Fair 2008 in Johannesburg. In 2011, the planning for The Divine Comedy began. The title is borrowed from the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri’s work of the same name. Why Dante? Why employ such an important epic in verse from Italian or world-literature as the springboard for an exhibition with African artists? Njami wants to highlight the topicality of Dante’s work. He wants to examine the theological, philosophical and moral questions that Dante poses – that are, of course, universal and timeless – with reference to today’s questions of belief, which are also political and economic questions. The participating artists, invited by Njami, have been seen already in important exhibitions such as the dOCUMENTA, various biennials, the Dak’Art as well as the exhibition, Africa Remix which was also curated by Simon Njami and had its beginnings in Düsseldorf, Germany in 2004.
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy was written between 1307 and 1321 during his banishment from his home city of Florence. Dante, therefore as many of the artists with African roots, who have been socialized in Europe or the United States – was looking from afar towards the cultural events taking place in his homeland. Generally, distance allows for different reflections on a place when a person leaves it. All the works shown in the exhibition are of high quality. Visible are familiar paintings by Pélagie Gbaguidi, who settled in “paradise” (heaven), and who reflects on Africa’s destiny in her Dansleventreduserpentdanhomê from 2013. Kudzanai Chiurai’s video Iyeza which was seen in the dOCUMENTA 2012 in Kassel landed in purgatory. To see the splendid bronze sculpture Prism 10 (Dead Laocoön) from 2013 by Wim Botha visitors traveled upstairs to hell. Photographs by Aïda Muluneh and installations by Wangechi Mutu and Mwangi Hutter were also included in this section. Hortensia Völckers, Director of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), the exhibition sponsors, quoting Jean Paul Sartre, explained “Hell is other people”. By implication, according to Völckers, this also means that I – or we – are hell for others. But which hell are we talking about? Colonialism at any rate is not the subject of the exhibition. The artists were merely asked to group themselves into one of the three areas – heaven, hell or purgatory, and to find a work to express this. This link to the illustrious Divine Comedy makes this easier with regard to the exhibition, and counters the question why he has chosen such a large and at the same time cumbersome work as a point of departure. Simon Njami asks a little mischievously, “Is this an exhibition or is it a book?” The author ( Daniela Roth) here confesses that, in spite of intensive study in connection with a university seminar, in spite of owning an annotated edition which includes a commentary and all chronological contemporary references and references to at least 600 of Dante’s contemporaries, she did not understand Dante’s Divine Comedy. Among the participating artists, some have read Dante’s work and have attempted to interpret it. As the accompanying text states “The exhibition uses Dante’s text as a point of departure and deconstructs the approach that beliefs can be assigned unambiguously to cultures. It assumes that the questions raised by Dante with regard to the hereafter can be universally transposed to many cultures and
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A誰da Muluneh, The 99 Series, 2013. Copyright: A誰da Muluneh
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reconciliation of reason and feeling. A popular ritual in Senegal is undertaken to encourage a positive outcome of the rainy season. Twelve canvasses covered with dripped and splashed paint create the color perception of a rainbow. Kader Attia is concerned with ‘amnesia’. In the Divine Comedy he shows patched-up mirrors, Repair Analysis from 2013 – in purgatory. For him, purgatory is an “in-between”, a state between good and evil, a process of repair. Joël Andrianomearisoa also works with mirrors. A model, as tall as a man, of a reflecting skyscraper complex is exhibited in purgatory. Sentimental Negotiations Act V from 2013 looks as if there were movable window shades in front of the windows but the façades of the houses are constructed of countless black, hinged pocketmirrors. One can walk between the ‘skyscrapers’ with which the artist wants to express the complexity of love and relationships. In the various positionings of the mirrors, one can also see vanity and pride and other “mortal sins.” Very impressive and beautiful is the installation, Errance by Dominique Zinkpè from 2013. Zinkpè pondered on the concept of “soul” and
Installation view: Wangechi Mutu, Metha, 2010 MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main. Photo: Axel Schneider. Copyright: MMK Frankfurt
religions”. Njami remarked, “This is not about the Divine Comedy and also not about Dante. It is about something truly universal. Something that touches all of us intimately, irrespective of our belief or our convictions: our relationship to the hereafter. It is about our relationship with life, and also with death.” Death is the subject chosen by the artist, Dimitri Fagbohoun from Benin. In his installation Réfrigerium, created in 2014 especially for the exhibition, he showed a video of his mother in the confessional speaking of her marriage and the death of her husband. Photographs of the corpse and ceremony are superimposed over the pictures. Now death is truly universal and perhaps life only has meaning because death exists. What comes afterwards, the hereafter, can only be speculated upon. “Old Africa knew neither heaven, nor hell, nor purgatory”, writes Achille Mbembe in his catalogue essay. The angry God – one holding us to account, is an invention of monotheism. In the old African way of thought, humans were one with their shadow and their reflection. A symbol of this unity is the subject of Cheikh Niass in the composition Arc en Ciel from 2011. He invites us to inner harmony and the
Installation view: Yinka Shonibare, How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Gentlemen), 2006 MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main. Photo: Axel Schneider Copyright: MMK Frankfurt
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Installation view: Dominique Zinkpè, Errance, 2013 MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main. Photo: Axel Schneider Copyright: MMK Frankfurt
made thousands of small, floating figures, “souls”, which are connected in mysterious ways with each other. Mirrors on the sandy floor and an ingenious light installation connected to an audio installation of a voodoo ceremony in Benin indicate the infinity of the universe. Ultimately we are all connected, everything is connected to everything else; the dead, the ancestors, surround the living in the form of shadows. The artists have illuminated individual words and concepts. In Minnette Vári’s video installation, Rebus the subject is forgiveness. Two axes cross each other – the known and the unknown, an oscillation between the possibility and the impossibility of forgiving. Mohamed Bourouissa chose the word “cloth” but in his video work, All-in from 2012, the subject is a machine – a machine that makes money. We see behind the scenes of minting coins and experience something of the power of money (This is located in hell). Nandipha Mntambo reflects on “torment”. From her usual material, cowhides, she makes four “cardinals”– Cardinal IV, from 2014. Life and death, human and animal, attraction and repulsion are closely connected. Angolan businessmen wearing African masks are shown by Edson Chagas in the photo series reminiscent of passport photographs Tipo Pass from 2012. Identity and the prejudices associated with it
are presented ad absurdum. The series Oikonomos from 2011 by the photographer who was awarded the Golden Lion at the 55th Biennale in Venice, shows portraits of people who have pulled shopping bags over their heads, a critical work on global consumer mentality. Dante’s Divine Comedy has inspired many artists. Berenice Josephine (“Berry”) Bickle draws and combines sequences from a film made in 1911 with her contemporary interpretation– videos with Beatrice and Virgil from Maputo and Bulawayo (2013). In paradise, we encounter Cercles de Cristal by Pascale Marthine Tayou and photographs by Andrew Tshabangu. In the work Silence, Zoulikha Bouabdellah presents prayer mats on which golden, glittery high heels are placed. Women and Islam, or men and Islam, are the subject of Houris, Rêve de Martyrs, 2014, in which Majida Khattari thematizes the heavenly promise that, after their death, martyrs are welcomed into paradise by 72 virgins. An allegorical triumphal procession is shown by Jane Alexander in Frontier with Church, 2013. It is hoped that the procession of the exhibition is also triumphant as it makes its way around the world. For the exhibition, a large catalogue by Simon Njami and Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer has been published by Kerber.
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THE SPIRITUAL HIGHWAY WORDS JULIET HIGHET
Akintunde Akinleye, Hell from Heaven, 2006
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During the period of Nigeria’s history known as ‘Paradise on Wheels’ owing to the oil boom, the 120 kilometer-long Lagos/Ibadan Expressway was built. Now it’s called the ‘Highway of Death’, the most accident-prone road in the country. It’s also become famous for another reason. Since the late 1980’s, numerous Muslim and Christian ‘prayer cities’ have been set up alongside it, earning it the title of ‘Spiritual Highway’, on which road signs have been replaced by religious signboards. In 2013, Nigerian photographer, Akintunde Akinleye and Dutch anthropologist, Dr. Marloes Janson collaborated on a project to explore and record the religious centers along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, culminating in an exhibition of Akinleye’s extraordinary photographs capturing the ecstatic, contemplative and many other aspects of these prayer cities. The full title of the show is The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in Megacity Lagos. Janson, whose special area of interest is the intersection between anthropology and religion, is a lecturer at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, also home of the Brunei Gallery mounting the exhibition. She explains that since the 1970’s, the rapid spread of Pentecostalism has fundamentally altered Nigeria’s religious landscape, drawing many Nigerian Christians from other churches, promising them ‘spiritual rebirth’ or to be ‘born again’. Muslims, (as well as other Christians) have reacted to the growing ‘Pentecostalisation’ of Nigerian society. A prominent example is one of the two ‘prayer cities’ along the expressway on which Akinleye and Jansen concentrated. This is the NasrulLahi-Fatih Society (NASFA), whose members were concerned that their youth were being drawn to Christianity. The other ‘prayer city’ is Pentecostal – the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries (MFM). They are so huge that as one of Akinleye’s photos shows, Means of Transport in MFM Prayer City, they can barely be traversed on foot, so funky vehicles convey the worshipers about. Another photo, NASFAT Prayer Hall, shows that it is as colossal as an aircraft hangar
protecting tens of thousands of worshipers from sun and rain, who assemble there on a regular basis. The Photo, Donation Box is significant in that it may contain upwards of half a million Naira (nearly £2,000) collected during a single prayer meeting. At MFM, worshipers are promised ‘charismatic gifts’. Akinleye’s stunning image, Prayer captures the moment of a woman’s transcendent experience, possibly speaking in tongues, prophesying, receiving faith-healing or deliverance from evil spirits. However such ‘prayer cities’ are not just offering spiritual advancement, they have become like fairs offering goods and services from healthcare and management courses through travel agencies conveying pilgrims to Mecca, to halal dating and beauty parlors. They compete with each other for new converts. But Janson contends that there’s a convergence between the two religions, and points out that inter-faith harmony is an enduring cultural trait in south-west Nigeria. Muslims and Christians live side-by-side, and members of extended families embrace one or the other of the two faiths in harmony with followers of the pantheon of Yoruba gods and goddesses. She cites various similarities in the prayer camps, such as the joint reference to prayer meetings as ‘crusades’, both beginning with ‘praise worship’ and concluding with prayer requests and testimonies, and both have ‘night vigils’, all-night prayer meetings attracting thousands of believers. Janson also proposes that: “Religion provides Lagosians with a powerful tool to render meaningful, the unstable flux of life in megacity Lagos.” Akinleye comments that: “There are other faiths that are also a part of the Spiritual Highway. At its extreme end, there is also an organization that’s been there for ages – the Guru Maharaj movement.” He also points out the negative environmental effect of the ‘urbanization’ of the expressway – the rapid disappearance of the rain forest through which, the narrow Lagos/Ibadan road once passed. Reinforcing this profound ecological change, Janson adds: “Fearing the exodus of their members to Pentecostal churches, NASFAT reacted by purchasing land the size
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Akintunde Akinleye, Delta Bush Refinery I, 2012
of several football pitches by the expressway, to set up its camp.” Akintunde Akinleye is the first Nigerian photographer to have been awarded a prize in the prestigious World Press Photo Award in Holland in 2007, with an iconic image of a man rinsing soot from his face at the scene of an oil explosion in a densely inhabited area of Lagos, Abule-Egba. In 2006, an armed gang ruptured a pipeline and siphoned off fuel into
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road tankers, leaving behind a stream of petrol on which hundreds of residents pounced to sell on the black market. It burst into flames while the scavengers were collecting the fuel. According to the Red Cross, the fire killed at least 269 people, and injured and burned dozens of others who were trapped between a workshop and sawmill. The prize-winning photo of this tragedy is not only shocking, it is beautiful. Akinleye
says: “When I took this shot, at first I felt it might be too artistic for a news story, and maybe my editors wouldn’t accept it. I sent it in anyway and then I got a text saying: “You’ve just taken a world-class picture.” Akinyele works for Reuters Nigeria news agency covering specific stories that chime with the aim of his work, which is “for change and development. It is dedicated to activism.” Although Nigeria is Africa’s oil giant, the eighth largest producer in the world, earning
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billions per annum for some people, a large number of her 160 million population endure extreme poverty. “Regardless of the GDP re-basing (which places Nigeria as 24th on the list of world economies), what makes the disparity between rich and poor ironic and more painful is that we are wealthy in our people’s talents, with some of the best brains in maths, engineering, literature, medicine and music. And we are blessed, or should I say cursed, with huge natural resources that have
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for decades attracted foreigners to trade with us, and in the case of Britain to conquer and colonize Nigeria.” Akinleye’s inspiring and committed photography earned him the title of ‘award fellow’ of the National Geographic Society’s ‘All Roads’ project; a ‘resident fellow’ of the Thami Mnyele Art Foundation of Amsterdam; and nominee for the Prix Pictet photography award for his project Delta, a Vanishing Wetland. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he has been commissioned for numerous projects abroad, as well as in Nigeria. Surprisingly he says: “I never wanted to be a photojournalist. I loved broadcasting and nurtured dreams since childhood of being a radio or TV correspondent. When I was eleven, my mum enrolled me in an afterschool workshop, where I began to learn about photography. I think she felt I was too playful! Much later, after secondary school, I
bought a camera and started selling pictures. It wasn’t a hobby – I was poor and wanted to make money, which I used to pay for my university entrance exams.” Akinleye has a mind-blowing five degrees and diplomas under his belt. “My first degree was in Social Studies, followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Then came a Masters in Educational Technology, and a Post Graduate Diploma plus a Masters in Mass Communication. A Ph.D in Mass Communication or Film Studies will be next. There’s a link between my photography and every academic avenue I have explored. One of the cardinal points of journalism is to educate as much as it informs and entertains.” However, he decided to concentrate on photography because he felt that despite his degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication, “I would not have as much freedom writing as I do with photojournalism.
Akintunde Akinleye, Hyenaman, Katsina, 2009
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My passion for visual art is also a factor.” Akinleye’s first photojournalism assignment was to cover a nationwide labor union strike. “The experience gave me an idea of what I should be doing” – activism and covering human-interest stories.” Another ephinous professional experience took place when he covered a religious riot in Jos in 2010, in which over 500 people were slashed to death. “It was the first time I shed tears in my entire career. I was so horrified by these violent killings that I felt it down to my spine. It was a moment of confusing guilt too, the decision to take photos or stop and show empathy. I have subsequently developed an attitude of weighing the value of the photographic documentation I make against the feelings I have for my subjects, with the events swirling around them. Many of the photos are never sold, they are meant to make history stand still! “One of my long-term projects is on Lagos
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Akintunde Akinleye, Delta Bush Refinery II, 2006
city. Some of my street photography does not allow my getting close to my subjects, the atmosphere can be very hostile. In this situation, a photo journalist can be a friend or an enemy. Usually my subjects have confidence and trust in me to tell their story.” Akinleye is working on other long-term photographic projects such as African Culture & Tradition and Delta, a Vanishing Wetland. A highly significant aspect of this is his coverage of the Delta bush refineries, otherwise known as the illegal oil trade. “Coverage was a huge challenge, one of the most difficult assignments I have embarked on. “Was it safe?” My Reuters boss asked me before I set off. Well, those involved have guns, so it all depended on whether they minded my turning up with a camera and taking shots of them. But I know from experience that many of the militants see what they’re doing as claiming what’s rightfully theirs, so they don’t mind being photographed.”
In the Niger Delta, people have watched for decades as black gold gets pumped out of their ancestral lands, making billions for foreign companies and the Nigerian elite, while they stay poor. Small wonder then that some of them decided to steal some of it back. Crude oil theft, known locally as ‘bunkering’ involves thieves hacking into or blowing up pipelines to steal the oil, then selling it or refining it locally. When they’re done, the pipeline spews oil for days and miles around, while thick smoke pumps out from the locally built oil burners. The environmental devastation is unbelievable. “My project was to cover this underground business, but also to expose the failure of government to provide a decent livelihood for the people of the Delta region. This trade is a direct result of high unemployment. While I don’t want to support criminality in any form, it is imperative to register that it thrives in places where government has failed to provide missing links.”
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This region, Bayelsa, home to two million people, is the home state of Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan, in which there’s a dire shortage of schools, as well as employment. Furthermore, the pollution of the creeks poisoning their water for decades has wrecked the livelihoods of fishermen. So corrupt is the whole business in its upper echelons, and so mismanaged that petrol stations throughout the nation often run out of supplies. And all this in a nation whose oil output is two million barrels a day, on which its treasury depends on for 80% of its income. Akinleye not only covered this disastrous scenario with his camera, but also together with Tife Owolabi, wrote an article, exposing the failure of the official campaign to end the illegal oil trade. One of their interviewees, who runs a refinery, said: “Whenever police or military discover the site, I simply pay them off”. The Spiritual Highway exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, London, ran till June 21, 2014.
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IKÉ UDÉ’S GLAMOROUS REBELLION WORDS VICTORIA PASS, IMAGES LEILA HELLER GALLERY, NEW YORK
I first encountered Iké Udé’s startlingly beautiful self-portraits two years ago in an exhibition called Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Looking at what would become just the first four photographs of an ongoing series that now includes over thirty images, I was struck by the aesthetic complexity of these images, and their astonishingly diverse array of references to art, fashion, and history. Staring out at the viewer in an Ottoman-inspired onion hat made from West African fabric and a beautiful blue cape in Sartorial Anarchy #2 (2010), Udé took on the appearance of the Ottoman scribe in a Giovanni Bellini gouache I had seen at the Gardner Museum. In Sartorial Anarchy #4 (2010), with his casual posture and his face in profile, Udé takes on the enigmatic look of Sargent’s Madame X, which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, his home for the last 32 years. Iké Udé was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and became an avid consumer of magazines as an English boarding school student there. The codes of glamour and elegance in these magazines are part of what Udé is trafficking in with the Sartorial Anarchy Series. Trafficking – a word that Udé uses quite a bit to describe this series – is particularly apt, suggesting boundary transgressions, both licit and illicit. Udé poses in an astonishing array of men’s clothing from various cultures and eras.
IKÉ UDÉ Sartorial Anarchy #32, 2013 Pigment on Satin Paper 45.7 x 36.5 in / 116.1 x 92.71 cm Edition of 5, 3 AP _____________________________________________ FACE MASK: Striped knit Jamaican Rastafarian hat worn backwards, over face and head; Jamaica, 1970s-present JACKET: Marching band uniform, 1970s, United States TROUSERS: Sailing flags, Men‚ trousers, embroidered sail-flags, United States, 1950-60s NECKWEAR: 16th century Western European ruff collar reproduction, reproduced with West African fabric, 2013 HAT: Top Hat, circa 1980s/1990s, United States CANE: Vintage cane, 1980s, United States TABLE: Low-table, Chinese, date unknown VASE: Miniature black vase, American, 2010 DECANTER: Japanese sterling silver overlay captain/ship‚ decanter, early 20th century PLANTER: Satsuma earthenware planter, Japan, Meiji Period (1868-1912) CARPET: Persian Gabbeh Oriental Rug, Vintage/Antique, date unknown
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IKÉ UDÉ Sartorial Anarchy #7, 2013 Pigment on Satin Paper 54 x 36.11 in / 137.2 x 91.72 cm Edition of 5, 3 AP _____________________________________________ HAIRSTYLE: Medusa/American Afro and West African inspired hairstyle FLUTE: Indonesian flute, contemporary HAT: Antique Top Hat, 1900s,United States and Desert hat Pin in ceramic with silver wire wrapping, vintage, circa 1930s SHIRT: Contemporary/classic plaid shirt, 2005 NECKWEAR: Wool, red/black, green, blue plaid tie, Scotland, 1930s JACKET: Contemporary plaid/ jacket, 2012 and a moldedglass-green cameo-stick pin, early 1900s, England SHORTS: Contemporary plaid shorts, 2011; belt and wool pom-pom, 2012 SOCKS: Italian football/soccer socks, 1990s SHOES: White Golf-style shoes, Italy, contemporary/classic, 1998 SHOE HORN: Antique bone/wood shoe-horn, late 1890s VIOLIN: Violin (contemporary reproduction, circa 1990s) CHAIR: Empire style-French-chair 1800/1815 (reproduction) CARPET: Antique carpet, origin and date unknown
In Sartorial Anarchy #27 (2013), for example, Udé sports a swashbuckler’s coat from the 1500s cinched with a World War II belt from a Soviet officer’s uniform over contemporary Levis, Italian football socks, and a pair of 1920s spectator shoes. He accessorizes with a 1970s American bow tie, a Fulani hat, a Yoruba staff from the mid-twentieth century, and oversized English punk safety pins. A safety pin fastened straight through the crown of the Fulani hat becomes a monocle in a brilliantly witty conflation of English punk and
aristocratic styles. In his 2010 statement on Sartorial Anarchy, Udé writes, “It is challenging, liberating and imaginatively rewarding to ‘mess’ with the tyranny of men’s dress traditional codes and still work within its own sartorial restrictions.” By only working with men’s clothing in these images, Udé’s work exposes the ways masculinity has been constructed throughout time and across the globe. For example, in Sartorial Anarchy #31, Udé’s hair is styled
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after a wig worn by the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II in the 12th century BCE. Udé’s pose recalls Hyacinth Rigaud’s iconic portrait of the French King Louis XIV (1701). The massive volume of Ramses’ wig is not so different from the French Sun King’s, and the Yoruba trousers he wears, echo Louis’ short breeches; French patterned socks replace the hose, and the saddle shoes substitute for Louis’ famous red-heeled shoes—all sartorial cues of masculine power from various times and places.
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IKÉ UDÉ Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2013 Pigment on satin paper 54 x 36.1 in / 137.2 x 91.7 cm Edition of 3, 3 AP _____________________________________________ HAT: Miniature fedora, 1920s WIG: Macaroni wig, England 1850s CANE: Zulu (South Africa) fighting stick, 1950s JACKET: Norfolk jacket 1859/1860 to present BROOCH: Miniature blue/silver vintage brooch of Philadelphia policeman, circa 1940s SHIRT: French-cuff, two-tone white & blue collar shirt, 2009 SPATS: Canvas boot spats, WWI, 1900s SHOES: Dress shoes, 1970s TROUSERS: Yoruba, Nigeria, 1940s CHAIR: Antique chair, origin unknown FLOWER: Gladiolus TABLE: Vintage side-table, origin unknown CARPET: Antique Blue Gabbeh rug, circa 1900s/1930s, Persian/Iran
Udé makes familiar garments strange and foreign garments familiar in Sartorial Anarchy #8. A Nigerian men’s gown, skull-embellished slippers, a contemporary button-down shirt, and Scottish tartan trousers are a play on British academic dress. Udé poses on a bicycle, evoking Oxford lads on bicycles from Brideshead Revisited, reframing academic dress as an European form, just as “tribal” as the beautifully embroidered Nigerian gown. As Udé eloquently explained to me in a recent interview, “I’m most interested in art that is
invested with timelessness, time-tested, lasting beauty, regardless of the vagaries of passing cultural meanings, passing intellectual fashions, woven or unwoven about it.
naturalized cultures. In a sense, one can argue that I’m responding to our collective cultural sphere rather than contemporary art, which is but a speck on the huge earth-ball in rotation.”
I’m keenly aware of how fluently connected we are on a global cultural scale. It is the most fascinating thing – to see what a small, constantly rotating ball that we all reside on and how we have historically and presently negotiated our place on this large sphere, this large ball – especially with our invented,
Sartorial Anarchy reveals masculinity and national identity as constructs. Made of one kind of material, a caftan represents Nigerian identity; made in another, it is a signifier of academic culture.
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Ude’s works are also, more simply, about
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IKÉ UDÉ Sartorial Anarchy #26, 2013 Pigment on Satin Paper 45.7 x 36.5 in / 116.1 x 92.71 cm Edition of 5, 3 AP _____________________________________________ COAT: Gray Loden wool men‚ jacket, Austria, Winter Hunting riding sport jacket, 1842 to present BOOTS: Vintage red brown leather tall custom lace-up riding Rocketeer style boots, 1950s-70s TROUSERS: Men‚ Riding Jodhpurs/Men‚ Horse Riding Breeches, Anglo-Indian, circa 1920s-30s SHIRT/TIE: Shirt and tie pair, British, 1990s HAIR PIECE: Ibo Nigerian head/hair piece, circa 1800/1900s NET: Butterfly net, United States, 2013 PIN: Vintage Millinery fruit cherries, 2012, United States
the pleasure of constructing and consuming beautiful images. Udé explains, “It is also important to appreciate the sense of irony and humor inherent in Sartorial Anarchy; there is serious pleasure in the totality of the work and one can simply enjoy it on that level, too. Above all, Sartorial Anarchy is conceptually about the language and semiotics of clothes and clothing as a cultural collective irrespective of time and boundaries and aesthetically about color, composition, harmony, lines, volumes, space, rhymes and other plasticity in art that concerns discerning picture architects.” Udé creates harmony through intricate rhythms of color and form. In #21 (2013), the curves of his Yoruba trousers match those of the nineteenth century Kingwood commode and vintage wooden chair. Red, yellow, and blue echo throughout the composition. In #5 (2013), the shape of a vase mimics the wig on Udé’s head, and its bright orange hue is matched by the gladiolas in the vase. The curves of the vintage side table and antique chair resonate with a pair
of striped Yoruba trousers, and the blue and orange color scheme repeats throughout. Each composition’s sophistication and aesthetic pleasure reflect the historical figure of the dandy, the source for this series. The wig Udé wears in #5 is based on a style popular with a group of English dandies called Macaronis. In the 1750s, these men rejected the restrained fashion of English men and embraced the dramatic styles popular in France and Italy. They donned large wigs that resembled those worn by women topped with absurdly small hats. These styles tested the boundaries of what was seen as suitably masculine and English, and like Udé’s work, revealed the perfomative nature of masculinity. As Udé explains in his statement on Sartorial Anarchy, “Dandyism is also the significance of sartorial distinction enhanced by indeterminate delicacy of pose, gestures, a tilt, determinate lines, a thrust here and there, all harmonized by an agreeable countenance.” As for the Macaronis and the early nineteenth century dandy, Beau Brummell, Udé’s clothing, deportment, elegance, and wit critique contemporary fashion and culture. Other dandies who influence Udé are the Comte de Montesquiou-Fezesnsac (1855–1921), and Jean des Essantes, the fictional decadent aesthete, modeled after de Montesquiou in Joris-Karl Huysmans’ 1884 novel, À Rebours (Against the Grain), and his fellow turnof-the-century Italian decadent, Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863–1938). Each called into question the nineteenth century obsession with progress, science, and rationalism. Turning away from the outside world, they created lavish worlds focused on aesthetic and sensual pleasures. The elegance of their dress distinguished these men from the corrupt, materialistic world around them. Udé’s dandyism is a refusal as it was with the fin de siècle decadents; a refusal of conformity, uniformity, and the prescriptive nature of men’s dress codes. He notes, “In large part, I find contemporary fashion boring for its tedium and advocacy of mass uniform; on the other hand, I find it dangerous, because of its tyranny and threat to individualism. Sartorial Anarchy is, in a way, essentially a response to contemporary codes of fashion.” Udé also cites the influence of Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) in his work. Baudelaire described dandies as brilliant observers of modern life, flaneurs who, like detectives, roamed city streets observing clues that revealed the identities of their fellow urbanites. Baudelaire’s dandy reveals the increasingly dominance of fashion and visual
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culture in framing identity in the modern world, a message which Udé points out has even more currency in our digital world. Udé also credits Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), who carefully crafted a dandiacal presentation in response to the spiritual emptiness he saw in postwar Japan, and the always elegantly turned out Miles Davis as key inspirations. These men insisted on taking aesthetics and the sensual pleasure of a sophisticated appearance seriously. Each one understood how a careful and thoughtful mode of dressing could make a statement about the world he wanted to live in. Udé’s painterly style of photography proves that beauty can still have meaning in contemporary art. His early photographic series, Uli, which began in 1997, works within the confines of the kind of straight modernist photography canonized by historian and curator, Beaumont Newhall. Udé replaces the unmarked bodies that inhabit photographs by Edward Weston or Alfred Steiglitz with bodies decorated in abstract Uli patterns used on both bodies and buildings in Nigeria, protesting what Udé refers to as “the conservative, fundamentalist … moral tone with which Beaumont Newhall framed the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of photography.” Udé violates the restrictive tenants of photography that continue to linger in the contemporary art world, saying, “The camera is and should be merely one of the tools at the disposal of an artist in order to employ, to realize his or her visions. To merely duplicate and reproduce what is in front of a camera is a boring, uninspiring fact, not art. And art shouldn’t concern itself with such square facts. Such constipated straight photography that Newhall preached and advocated is better suited for the police department, the immigration agencies and scientific purposes where facts are of necessary import. Besides the medium, there is no distinction between a painter and a photographer. The aim is the same. We are all in the business of making pictures. And some of us make better pictures than others. That is all! No more, no less!” In our interview, Udé also expressed frustration with the reluctance of scholars and theorists of African art and art history to claim Egypt as a classical past that informs the contemporary renaissance of African and African diaspora artists. “The lively intelligence of individuals who
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created the (European) Renaissance (were) busting with vitality and confidence, they weren’t in the mood to be crushed by antiquity, they meant to absorb it, to equal it, to master it!... the exact same case applies to and should be made about the real grand genesis of African civilization, Egypt! With the exception of the late Cheikh Anton Diop, Robert Bauval and to a degree, Martin Bernal, African scholars have been complacent, lazy, timid and shortsighted to reclaim our Egyptian culture and use it as the foundation of our contemporary culture in much the same way pre-Renaissance Europe saw fit to do with Greco-Roman civilizations which owe a debt to Egypt. And by Egypt, I mean pre-Arab, African Egypt.” Udé cites Diop, who argues in his book The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, “The history of Black Africa will remain suspended in air and cannot be written correctly until African historians dare to connect it with the history of Egypt.” Udé explains, “Egypt is in our backyard and has always been part of the African neighborhood since time immemorial ... You see awesome remnants of Egypt in in what we today call Ethiopia and Sudan. For sure, Sudan and most likely, Ethiopia were a part of greater Egypt before the current geographical map that we know and use today. Just as ancient Viking, Teutonic cultures, and so on, weren’t enough to serve as the bases of what we today call Western civilization, conversely, Ife, Benin, Nok cultures and the likes, are not enough, for a classically based African Renaissance only Egypt would suffice … Shelly once said, on behalf of Europeans, that “we are all Greeks: our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts all have their roots in Greece. But for Greece, we might still have been savages and idolaters.” With great admiration and utmost respect to the great poet, I’ll add that we are all Egyptians – that very cradle of African civilization that informed GrecoRoman civilization – and that Africans have unwittingly allowed (this fact to lie) in neglect at their own peril and present backwardness. Europeans emerged from the Dark Ages, only by emulating and reimagining themselves after Greco-Roman civilizations that owe a debt to Egypt. Shelly was right and what is good for Europeans is good for Africans. We eventually become the emulative and imagined. In the end there is only one race, the human race – with one common African origin. Our present notion and understanding of race and/or racial difference – mostly a colonial product – is phony, idiotic, dumb, uniformed and will ultimately baffle and embarrass future generations who will intelligently and understandably find the current racial enterprise a regrettable nonsense.” Udé promotes a global view that erodes barriers and hierarchies and opens up those interstices where we might find something unexpected: a Moroccan fez that reminds us of an Oxford mortarboard, a nineteenth century military helmet from Uzbekistan that resembles Ramses II’s coiffure, or a sixteenth-century European ruff collar made from contemporary West African fabric. As the Sartorial Anarchy Series continues to expand, Udé plans to execute a unique portrait of the stars working in the vibrant Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, second only to India’s Bollywood in the number of films produced each year. He correctly concludes, “I think that the Nollywood personages deserve to be exalted and immortalized within an artistic framework, in much the same way that Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and the likes were immortalized. And I’m in the perfect position to do an excellent job of it! … My gift for portraiture and capturing the essence of elegance is very particular and uniquely my own.”
IKÉ UDÉ Sartorial Anarchy #21, 2013 Pigment on Satin Paper 45.7 x 36.5 in / 116.1 x 92.71 cm Edition of 5, 3 AP _____________________________________________ HAT: Bowler hat hugged by Octopus SHIRT: Contemporary/classic white shirt, 2012, United States BOUTONNIERE: Contemporary/classic boutonniere, 2007, United States TIE: Wool collegiate/rep tie, 2002, United States JACKET: 1930s/1940s School/Boater Blazer in red, yellow pinstripe, U.K. TROUSERS: Embroidered indigo/blue Yoruba, Nigeria trousers with draw strings, 1940s LEGGINGS: Pair of officers WWII, 1940s Leather Army Field Leggings Spats + straps SHOES: Pair of contemporary shoes, 2012 worn with flower pom-poms in the 17th/18th century European manner CHAIR: Vintage, origin unknown COMMODE: 19th century Louis XV bronze mounted Kingwood Commode and painted wooden duck
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BEN ENWONWU MBE,
REMEMBERING AN ICON: TWENTY YEARS ON… WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
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I will not accept an inferior position in the art world. Nor have my art called African because I have not correctly and properly given expression to my reality. I have consistently fought against that kind of philosophy because it is bogus. European artists like Picasso, Braque and Vlaminck were influenced by African art. Everybody sees that and is not opposed to it. But when they see African artists who are influenced by their European training and techniques, they expect that African to stick to traditional forms even if he bends down to copying them. I do not copy traditional art. I like what I see in the works of people like Giacometti but I do not copy them. I knew Giacometti personally in England, you know. I knew he was influenced by African sculptures. But I would not be influenced by Giacometti, because he was influenced by my ancestors. – Ben Enwonwu, 1989
Twenty years after his death, Professor Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu MBE (1917-94) remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Much of Enwonwu’s legacy is hinged on his creation of a modern visual language for Africa, through the fusion of Western techniques and indigenous traditions. His success increased the visibility and appreciation of modern and contemporary African art, and gave respectability to the art profession, paving the way for many generations of Nigerian and African artists to define their practices. Enwonwu was the first African artist to be admitted into prestigious exhibition spaces in the West. The international press also hailed him as “Africa’s greatest artist,” and his growing fame was used to support Black Nationalists struggles all over the world. An administrator and educator par excellence, Enwonwu was
Nigeria’s first cultural advisor, and first Professor of Fine Art. With famous masterpieces, many becoming symbols of major public institutions like; Anyanwu at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York; Sango at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) headquarters in Lagos; and The Drummer at the Nigerian Telecommunications headquarters (NITEL) in Lagos, no other Nigerian artist occupies such a significant position in our national consciousness. Ben Enwonwu was born a twin on the July 14, 1917 in Onitsha, eastern Nigeria. His father, Odigwe Enwonwu was a reputable traditional sculptor and his mother, Ilom, a successful cloth merchant. After his early education at Saint Mary’s School, Onitsha, Enwonwu enrolled at Government College, Ibadan in 1934, where his genius as an artist was greatly encouraged by Kenneth C. Murray, an Englishman, who was Education Officer in charge of Art Education in the Colonial
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Crucified Gods Galore, oil on canvas, 1967-68
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Africa Dances, 1980, bronze, 102.9cm. Sold: N8.8million ($54.873, buyerâ€™s premium inclusive) Arthouse Contemporary, May 9, 2011 Photo: Kelechi Amadi-Obi
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The Blue Boy, 1959, gouache on paper, 73x53cm. Courtesy: The Ben Enwonwu Foundation
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Civil Service and later Director of Antiquities. Enwonwu completed his secondary education at Government College, Umuahia in 1939. In July 1937, Murray exhibited the works of his students including his, at the Zwemmer Gallery in London. His work was also shown at the Glasgow Empire Exhibition in 1938. The following year, he was awarded prize money and a bronze medal for his work now in the art collection of the International Business Machine Corporation in San Francisco. In 1944, he was awarded a Shell Petroleum scholarship to study in the United Kingdom. Here, he enrolled at Goldsmith College of Art, Lewisham, London and later Ruskin and Slade Ashmolean, Oxford, where he studied Fine Art, Aesthetics, History of (Western) Art and Anthropology, graduating with first class honors in Sculpture. He continued his studies in London at the University College and London School of Economics where he did postgraduate work in Social Anthropology. In 1946, on the invitation of Sir Julian Huxley, then Director of UNESCO, Enwonwu represented Africa at the International Exhibition of Modern Art held at the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris. In 1947, he completed his studies and was elected Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (FRAI). He also became a member of Hampstead Arts and Artists International. Enwonwu lectured widely in the United States at several institutions including Harvard University and New York University. He also lectured at the University of Ghana, Legon and attended many international seminars across the world, delivering many papers on African art, culture and aesthetics. In recognition of his contributions to the advancement of art in Africa and the world, Prof. Ben Enwonwu was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1954, one of the youngest in the Commonwealth at the time. At the height of his fame in 1956, he became the first African artist to be commissioned to sculpt a bronze portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The sittings began at Buckingham Palace, continuing at the artist’s private studio in London. The resulting fulllength bronze statue was shown at the Tate Gallery. He was also a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA). In 1966, he led the Nigerian contingent to the first World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal. In 1968, Enwonwu retired from the
Nigerian Civil Service as Art Advisor to the Federal Government and was reappointed on contract that same year as Cultural Advisor. In appreciation of the artist’s excellent status in matters of art and culture, the University of Lagos elected him, her first University Fellow in African Studies. In 1969, Ahmadu Bello University awarded him an honorary Doctorate Degree (D.Litt) for his writings on art. In 1971, he became a visiting artist to the Institute of African Studies at Howard University, Washington D.C. That same year, the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) appointed him her first Professor of Fine Art, a post he held until 1975. More recognition followed with the conferment in 1980 of the Nigerian National Merit Award for academic and intellectual achievement. Enwonwu held several exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad and in 1991, a retrospective show spanning 50 years of his creative genius was held in his honor at the National Museum in Lagos. He died on February 5, 1994 at the age of 77. Since then, Enwonwu has received several more honors posthumously. In 2008, a crater on Mercury, The Enwonwu was named after him, and in October 2010, Enwonwu was inducted to The Nigerian Hall of Fame for Science and The Nigerian Hall of Fame for Letters by Nigeria LNG Limited in recognition of his distinguished contribution to the development of visual art in Nigeria. On February 28, 2014, he was presented the Federal Government Centenary Award for his contributions to building modern Nigeria in the last100 years. Ben Enwonwu’s works continue to command staggering amounts on the international market for African art. Last year, one of the most prestigious auction houses in the world, Bonhams sold his seven wooden figures commissioned by the Daily Mirror, London for 361,000 pounds. His miniature copy of Anyanwu also holds the domestic record of N30, 000,000 ($181,753). In 2003, a Foundation was established in Lagos, which has on its board, several important patrons and collectors including Chief Aino Oni- Okpaku as chair, Sammy Olagbaju, Olasehinde Odimayo, Joe Obiago, Evelyn Oputu OON, and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi OFR. The Foundation aims to sustain and build on Enwonwu’s life and work and since 2004, has held its distinguished lecture series at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). The lecture series has become a major gathering for
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the rich diversity of contemporary Nigerian society. It offers an opportunity for national and international leaders, renowned academics and policy makers to share their understanding and perspectives on the role of art in causing desirable societal changes while contributing to nation building and economic empowerment. Previous speakers include Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and the Director of the Slade School of Art, Professor John Aiken. Through scholarships and grants, The Ben Enwonwu Foundation also supports research, exhibitions and publications that foster innovative and scholarly artistic expression. Currently, the scholarship scheme benefits students of Yaba College of Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Obafemi Awolowo University and University of Lagos. In advancement of its objectives, the Foundation opened an art center in the artist’s residence, which still retains the feel of the grand home it once was. The center aims to promote research into his practice and boasts of one the finest collections of Enwonwu’s art spanning over six decades. The art center has a year-round educational programme that explores Enwonwu’s art practice, the cultural and social context of his work and links to contemporary themes. The center also houses the Omenka Gallery, which represents a fine selection of African and international artists working in diverse media while examining in an experimental way, contemporary art developments in Nigeria. The gallery shares the serene surroundings of the BC Café , a perfect venue for corporate social events and relaxation. With its lush gardens overlooking a water front, the BC Café offers exquisite home-made cuisines, drinks and fine music. Currently, the Foundation is embarking on several projects, which include publishing Enwonwu’s autobiography, lectures and writings on contemporary African art in volumes. As well as the 20th anniversary of Ben Enwonwu’s death, this year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Foundation. To commemorate the events, a distinguished lecture will be held, while a compendium of all previous lectures will be published. In addition, an exhibition will be staged in Enwonwu’s honor, of paintings by reputed artists who research into his work and explore themes around his oeuvre, as well as a short documentary on defining moments in his life.
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Ogolo, 1989, oil on canvas
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THE LAGOS ART GUIDE WORDS JOSEPH GERGEL
As Lagos develops at unprecedented speed, its contemporary art community is at the cusp of a creative renaissance. Lagos is quickly establishing itself as a preeminent artistic hub in Africa. Over the past two decades, an emerging generation of artists in Lagos have critically embraced contemporary art in expanded artistic practices including performance, installation, new media, and design. Educational and developmental opportunities have arisen from nonprofit cultural organizations, galleries and commercial arts spaces are establishing a viable market, and annual festivals while projects bring in leading international names to collaborate with local artists. Many artistled initiatives have also emerged to provide mentorship for younger artists. With rising international interest and prices for modern and contemporary Nigerian art soaring, Lagos is at the cusp of a creative renaissance as it finds its voice on a local and grassroots level.
The Non-Profit Sector Several non-profit organizations in Lagos have created an educational base for contemporary art and a rotating calendar of exhibitions and art-related events. The African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) operates a gallery in
Ikoyi that supports new work by emerging artists. The foundation is a meeting ground for many contemporary artists and they host receptions, talks, and workshops on a regular basis. They also have a residency programme for local and international artists, which at any given time brings diverse creative minds under one roof. African Artists’ Foundation also organizes LagosPhoto, the annual festival of photography, as well as the National Art Competition, an annual platform to identify new talent by young artists in the country. They have recently partnered with the Ford Foundation to implement a new project, YECA (Youth Empowerment through Contemporary Art), targeting youth in Lagos with courses in visual arts. In addition, AAF launched the online platform, Art Base Africa, which includes an archive and arts journal, and have curated international exhibitions in Johannesburg, Amsterdam, and Miami. Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Lagos runs an intensive programme of exhibitions, talks, and workshops that advance the conceptual rigor of contemporary art in non-traditional mediums. CCA has presented solo exhibitions of emerging and established
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Installation view: Odun Orimolade, Being and Becoming, Art Twenty One, Lagos. Courtesy: Marc Chaghouri and Art Twenty One
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Installation view: LagosPhoto. Courtesy: African Artists’ Foundation
artists including El Anatsui, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Lemi Ghariokwu, George Osodi, Victor Ehikhamenor, Ndidi Dike, Adolphus Opara, Kainebi Osahenye, and Abass Kelani. They have also produced group thematic exhibitions focusing on topics from video and comics to post-colonialism and identity. In addition, CCA has partnered with several international organizations to present crosscultural projects. Notable recent exhibitions include The Progress of Love, a collaborative exhibition with the Menil Collection in Houston and the Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis, as well as The Marker, a curated section of Art Dubai that brought together arts spaces in five cities across Africa. CCA also hosts visiting scholars, offers a library, and develops annual workshops that have taken place in Lagos, Accra, and Dakar. Terra Kulture is an educational and recreational center that promotes the richness and diversity of Nigerian culture through arts initiatives, language courses, and performances. Founded in 2003, Terra Kulture was an early pioneer for culture organizations
in Lagos. It includes an art gallery, restaurant, book store, and theatre. The language school provides courses in Nigeria’s three major languages, and Terra Kulture’s café serves authentic Nigerian cuisine. Their art gallery presents thematic and solo exhibitions of Nigerian artists, and the theatre hosts plays, concerts, and conferences. Terra Kulture also holds an annual auction of contemporary Nigerian art, most recently held at the Intercontinental Hotel. A strong Nigerian collector base has spawned several non-profit initiatives on behalf of private collections. The Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) is a non-profit organization led by Prince Yemisi Shyllon that hosts a rotating group of scholars to conduct research in Nigeria. Prince Shyllon gives tours of his extensive art collection, housed at his private estate, on a regular basis. The Didi Museum, founded by private collectors, also hosts exhibitions at their newly renovated building on Victoria Island and acts as a forum for research and preservation of
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Nigerian art. In addition to these Nigerianbred initiatives, international cultural bodies have contributed significantly to the burgeoning arts scene. Goethe-Institut Nigeria, the cultural institute of Germany, has had a long-standing presence in Nigeria for over fifty years. Presently located at Lagos City Hall, GoetheInstitut has embraced experimental forms of contemporary art with several initiatives that brought leading international artists to Lagos, including photographer, Akinbode Akinbiyi and choreographer, Richard Siegal. To celebrate their fiftieth anniversary in 2012, Goethe-Institut organized the Lagos Live festival of contemporary dance and performance at Freedom Park. Last year, they collaborated with the Museum Folkwang in Germany to bring an exhibition of West African photography to Lagos, which included the symposium Crossing Archives that brought art historians, Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu to Lagos. Goethe- Institut also partnered with their counterpart in South Africa to host the Photographer’s Portfolio Meeting, led by curator, Simon Njami in Lagos
in 2013. Goethe-Institut has set a model for engaging alternative exhibition venues in Lagos with their continued use of the Federal Printing Press, an abandoned government building on Lagos Island that once housed the country’s press headquarters. British Council Nigeria facilitates training programmes to promote creative enterprises and professional development. For the past three years, British Council has presented the Lagos Theatre Festival, which has stimulated innovation in theatre practices in the country. They also partnered with LagosPhoto to bring internationally acclaimed photographer, Martin Parr to Lagos in 2013. British Council has announced a major initiative for contemporary art in Nigeria in 2015, which promises to further expand their cultural outreach. Alliance Française facilitates an annual competition of photography entitled Life in My City, which expands to several other cities in Nigeria. They also organize a monthly music series, Unplugged, that features prominent Nigerian musicians. The National Museum on Lagos Island holds a permanent collection of Nigerian art, including traditional crafts, statuary and carvings, as well as the bullet-ridden car of
assassinated former head-of-state, Murtala Mohammed. Directly across the street, the MUSON Centre promotes classical music through training courses and their annual MUSON Festival.
Galleries and Market Initiatives The art market has blossomed in recent years, with new galleries and commercial spaces popping up throughout the city alongside stalwarts that have stood the test of time. Omenka Gallery, located amidst a picturesque garden on the Lagos Lagoon, shares its premises with the BC Café and the headquarters of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation, which represents the estate of one of Nigeria’s leading modern artists. Omenka’s rotating exhibitions include work by contemporary artists in Nigeria and abroad covering thematic spectrums such as contemporary photography, design, and abstraction. Recent exhibiting artists include Adeola Balogun, Fidelis Odogwu, ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Gary Stephens, Cedric Nunn, Kelani Abass, and Alex Nwokolo. Omenka Gallery also presents lectures, workshops for art students. Recently, Omenka Gallery has shifted renewed focus internationally, bringing exhibitions to Johannesburg, Cape Town,
Panel Discussion: Contemporary Art Spaces in Lagos, October 2013. Courtesy: African Artists’ Foundation
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London, and Dubai, as well as collaborating with galleries in Germany and Italy. Nimbus Gallery is much more than a space for showcasing contemporary art. Located at Bogobiri House in South-west Ikoyi, Nimbus has become a hub for Lagos’ creative community, combining visual arts, music, and literature. One of Lagos’ first contemporary art spaces, Nimbus Gallery was originally located directly across the street, though today it has evolved in its new location to include a boutique hotel, restaurant, bar, music recording studio, bike rental, and gift shop. On any given night, there is live music in one of two performing spaces on the compound. The upstairs gallery rotates work by emerging Nigerian artists and includes a library and terrace, ironically made from the doors of abandoned public buses. Nimbus Gallery organizes art workshops for young people, who can often be found on the premises in the midst of their exercises. Bogobiri House hosts weekly events, including an Open Mic Night, which showcases local musical talent. Last year, Bogobiri celebrated its tenth year anniversary with a month-long programme of events, including the Etisalat Prize for Literature. The art community in Lagos received an
invigorating new addition with the opening of Art Twenty One in 2013, a sprawling 600 square meter exhibition space with stateof-the-art facilities dedicated to promoting contemporary African art. Art Twenty One has launched several solo exhibitions of established Nigerian artists, including Olu Amoda, Peju Alatise, Nnenna Okore, and Odun Orimolade, who have been able to engage the vast space with large-scale works, installation, and site-specific projects. It also features group thematic exhibitions, notably Blank Canvas, which included work by seven artists from Nigeria and Benin. Conceived not as a gallery but as a larger platform, Art Twenty One has expanded with related events, most recently the Child Not Bride campaign led by Nigerian artist, Peju Alatise. Arthouse Contemporary, an international auction house specializing in African modern and contemporary art, holds auctions twice a year in Lagos. Arthouse has developed a strong collector base and has helped to establish market standards in the country. Each auction brings unprecedented sales on both the primary and secondary markets. Arthouse’s auction catalogues provide a vital resource for gauging the art market in Nigeria and are available online. Arthouse has also partnered with local organisations to support exhibitions in Lagos, and they recently expanded internationally with their inclusion in Art14 in London. Arthouse’s Spring and Fall auctions, held at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, have become a local mecca for collectors and art professionals, and are as much of a social scene as they are business. Nike Art Gallery is a conglomerate of many initiatives led by prominent Nigerian artist, Nike Okundaye, which includes a gallery, several arts centers, workshops, and tours. Nike Art Gallery’s enormous exhibition space in Lekki spans four floors filled with an eclectic variety of over six thousand works of art. Moreover, Okundaye has established art centers in Oshogbo, Odigi, and Abuja, where young people are able to learn traditional arts and crafts. An accomplished artist in her own right, Okundaye has re-invigorated the local traditional practices of weaving and dying to a contemporary audience. Embracing alternative models for art presentation, A White Space was conceived as a blank canvas for a wide range of arts and culture projects. As an empty space available for short lease, A White Space hosts popup exhibitions, boutiques, fashion shows, film screenings, and cultural programming.
More than simply a venue, the team at A White Space have created a platform to bring divergent creative endeavors in conversation with each other. A White Space recently developed the annual project Big 60, which bridges fashion, music, art, and lifestyle over a period of sixty days. The project includes a pop-up restaurant and bar, with specialty cocktails and menus created by local chefs. Special events during Big 60 have included game nights, speed dating, and artist talks. With the newly established A Whitespace Creative Agency (AWCA), we can anticipate much more to come as they expand to represent artists. New art spaces have appeared over the past year at a rapid rate. Red Door Gallery opened in 2013 with an inaugural exhibition of Lemi Ghariokwu’s iconic Afrobeat-inspired graphics. Art Café, a restaurant and coffee shop, includes an art gallery that has exhibited the works of George Edozie, Dominique Zinkpè, Tolu Aliki, and Gerald Chukwuma, among others. Quintessence, a gallery that incorporates contemporary art with more traditional crafts, textiles, and design, recently moved to a larger location at Parkview Estate in Ikoyi. Life House, a cultural initiative that has had a long-term presence in Lagos, has launched projects in diverse spaces around the city. In addition, Watersworth Gallery, founded by prominent Nigerian artist, Tola Wewe, operates an exhibition space in Lekki. These new art spaces join the ranks of other mainstay galleries, including Signature Gallery and Mydrim Gallery, who have long hosted exhibitions at their galleries in Ikoyi.
Artist-led Projects As an older generation of artists have become more established in recent years, new artistled initiatives have emerged to develop a younger artist base. The Nlele Institute African Centre of Photography (TNI.ACP), founded by photographer, Uche Okpa-Iroha, conducts workshops for photography, video, and lens-based practices. Recent courses have included topics such as representation, identity, and the social dynamics of the city. Photogarage, another photography initiative led by Uche James-Iroha, has organized several projects and symposiums for art students at local universities. The Silent Majority Project, founded by photographer, Adolphus Opara and artist, Olusola Otori, facilitated a long-term initiative that brought photography courses and extended mentorship to young people in the
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Courtesy: Adophus Opara and Silent Majority Project
local community of Makoko, a historic fishing village built on stilts in the waters overlooking the Third Mainland Bridge. Nigerian architect, Kunle Adeyemi recently built a floating school structure in Makoko, which has hosted exhibitions of its residents. Invisible Borders, led by artist, Emeka Okereke, has gained international attention with their annual road trip through the continent. Including a team of photographers, writers, and journalists,
this year’s trip took the project to new heights as the group traveled from Lagos to Sarajevo over 150 days. In new media initiatives, Video Art Network (VAN) Lagos curates exhibitions, develops educational programmes, and organizes film screenings to promote video art in Nigeria. Led by artists, Emeka Ogboh, Jude Anogwih, and cultural producer, Oyindamola Fakeye, recent projects have included the International Video Art Festival in Lagos in 2013, which featured artists from Africa, South East Asia, and Europe. The Nigerian Nostalgia Project, an online project that includes an archive of vernacular images that document Nigeria through the years 1960 -1980, has created a community on social media and recently expanded to installations in
Lagos and Johannesburg. While these artist-led initiatives develop, they fall in line with Universal Studios of Art, an artistic collective located at the National Theatre in the Surulere neighborhood of Lagos. The collective has sustained itself as an integral community of artists for over twenty years in diverse practices spanning visual art and performance. Recent controversy arose after encroaching development plans threatened to close the National Theatre, facing an uncertain future. Outside of the visual arts, the monthly concert series Afropolitan Vibes, led by Nigerian musician, Ade Bantu, brings together the creative community at
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FEATURES Freedom Park on Lagos Island. Freedom Park, a former prison that was converted to a public park in 2010, hosts cultural festivals and related events and houses an art gallery led by writer, Wole Soyinka. There are weekly concerts at the New Afrika Shrine, where Femi and Seun Kuti regularly perform, and the annual Felabration festival celebrates the music of legendary Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. The Lagos Philharmonic, conducted by Nigerian composer, Re Olunuga, includes an orchestra of over thirty members and plays during select events throughout the year. Picnicker’s Anonymous, an impromptu gathering of young creative professionals, holds monthly picnics in public spaces around Lagos. Jazzhole, a music store and café in Ikoyi, stocks an eclectic mix of local CD’s, records, and literature.
New Horizons As the contemporary art scene in Lagos continues to develop, new
projects are already in production. Alara, a new concept store and gallery that focuses on art, fashion, and design, opens later this year with a newly constructed building designed by internationally acclaimed architect, David Adjaye. The AFiRIperFOMA Biennial, the first dedicated biennale of performance art in Africa, will host its second incarnation in Lagos in 2015. Organized by Nigerian performance artist, Jelili Atiku, the biennale launched in Zimbabwe in 2013 with plans to tour to other African cities in the future. LagosPhoto will host its fifth annual festival of photography later this year, entitled Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction, which will include work by leading international and local artists alongside a public programme of panel discussions, artist talks, portfolio reviews, and workshops. With ongoing discussions for plans to develop a Lagos-based art fair, a visual arts biennial, and a Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennial, Lagos’ art future only projects upwards.
Addresses African Artists' Foundation (AAF) 54, Raymond Njoku Street Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos Mon-Sat, 10 AM-6 PM www.africanartists.org Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Lagos 9, McEwen Street, Yaba, Lagos Mon-Fri 10 AM-6 PM www.ccalagos.org Terra Kulture Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage Street Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos Mon-Thurs 9:30 AM-10 PM, Fri & Sat 9:30 AM-Midnight, Sun 12:00 PM-Midnight www.terrakulture.com Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) www.nigerianartoyasaf.org Didi Museum 175, Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos didimuseum.org Goethe-Insitut Nigeria Lagos City Hall, Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island, Lagos Mon-Thurs 8 AM-5 PM, Fri 8 AM-4 PM www.goethe.de/lagos British Council Nigeria 20, Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos Mon-Thurs 8 AM-3:30 PM, Fri 8 AM-12 PM www.britishcouncil.org.ng Alliance Française 239, Herbert Macaulay Way, Alagomeji, Yaba Mon-Fri 9 AM-6 PM, Sat 9 AM-3 PM www.alliancefrancaise-ng.org National Museum Lagos 2, J.K. Randle Street, Onikan, Lagos Mon-Fri 9 AM-4 PM, Sat-Sunday 9 AM-5 PM MUSON Centre 8/9, Marina, Onikan, Lagos www.muson.org Omenka Gallery 24, Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija), Crescent Ikoyi, Lagos Mon-Fri 9 AM-6 PM Sat 10 AM-4 PM www.omenkagallery.com Nimbus Gallery/Bogobiri House 9, Maitama Sule Street Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos www.bogobiri.com
Art Twenty One Eko Hotel & Suites 1415, Adetokunbo Ademola Street Kuramo Waters, Lagos Tues-Fri 10 AM-6 PM, Sat 11 AM-7PM www.art21lagos.com Arthouse Contemporary 36, Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos (office) Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos (annual auctions) www.arthouse-ng.com Nike Art Gallery 2, Elegushi Road 3rd Roundabout ,after Lekki Toll Gates Lekki, Lagos www.nikeart.com A White Space 58, Raymond Njoku Street Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos www.whitespace-ng.com Red Door Gallery 51B, Bishop Oluwole Street Victoria Island, Lagos Tues-Sat 10 AM-7PM, Sun 12 PM-6 PM www.reddoorgallery.com Art Café 282, Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island, Lagos Mon-Fri 9 AM-7 PM, Sat 10 AM-11 PM, Sun 12 PM-7 PM Quintessence Park View Estate Entrance Off Gerrard Road, Ikoyi Mon-Fri 9 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM www.quintessenceltd.com Life House Remi Olowude Street, Lekki, Lagos www.thelifehouselagos.com Watersworth Gallery 3B, Unity Close Off Africa Lane, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos www.watersworthart.com Signature Gallery 107, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos Mydrim Gallery 74B, Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos www.mydrimgallery.com The Nlele Institute of Contemporary African Photography (TNI.ACP) www.thenleleinstitute.wordpress.com
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Photogarage www.facebook.com/photogarage.lagos The Silent Majority Project www.thesilentmajorityproject.blogspot.com Invisible Borders www.invisible-borders.com Video Art Network (VAN) Lagos C/O Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos 9, McEwen Street, Sabo, Lagos www.vanlagos.org. The Nigerian Nostalgia Project www.nigerianostalgia.tumblr.com Afropolitan Vibes www.bantucrew.com Freedom Park Old Prison Ground, Broad Street Lagos Island, Lagos Mon-Sun 8 AM-11 PM www.lagosfreedompark.com New Afrika Shrine 1, Nerdc Road, Agindigbi, Ikeja, Lagos www.thenewafrikashrine.com Felabration www.felabration.net Lagos Philharmonic Orchestra www.facebook.com/philonigeria Picnicker's Anonymous of Lagos www.facebook.com/groups/breezeblanketwine Jazzhole 168, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos Mon-Sat, 9 AM-9 PM www.glendorabooks.net Universal Studios of Art National Theatre, Orile-Iganmu, Lagos www.universalstudiosofart.com Alara 296, Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island, Lagos www.alaralagos.com AFiRIperFOMA Biennial www.afiriperfoma.webs.com LagosPhoto www.lagosphotofestival.com
24, Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija) Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos T. +234 81 7164 6710, 809 871 7710
FEATURES - COVER STORY
MAPPING CITIES, DECONSTRUCTING CULTURES: CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN ART IN A GLOBAL LENS WORDS JOSEPH GERGEL
It has been said, time and time again, that Lagos represents a city of chaos. As an archetypal megacity of the future, Lagos signifies a truly post-modern Africa, where competing infrastructural and developmental challenges make way for ad-hoc urbanism. While there is of course, a factual basis to this prescription of contemporary existence in Lagos, such a portrayal often narrowly situates Nigeria as a place of otherness, which in an international perspective, easily falls back to an exotic depiction of a delayed continent. In fact, Lagos in the twenty-first century is in compelling ways at the cutting edge of what many global cities aspire to be ... there is a young creative class that is forming its own avant-garde in the diverse domains of art, literature, fashion, music, and design; a booming economy that projects progressively upwards; and the promise of urban development that is transforming the city at an unprecedented speed. While this analysis does not assume to ignore the many obstacles in social progress that is a current reality in Nigeria, there is a more nuanced picture of Lagos that a burgeoning group of contemporary
artists choose to portray. These artists adopt artistic processes that negotiate the complexities and intricacies that form the Nigerian perspective outside of the “chaos” stereotype. Contemporary art in Nigeria is positioning itself to be a key force in the international arts dialogue as artists explore both the local specificities and international concerns of the urban environment, looking to the influx of globalization and how it forms new realities and cultural paradigms. Rather than limiting their depiction of Lagos to a simplified diagnosis of urban chaos, these artists question how, why, and the implications that such dynamic urbanism presents. Ike Francis is representative of many artists working in Nigeria today, who explore our evolving notions of the city and the individual’s understanding of cultural and geographic identity. In installations, sculptures, and mixed media canvases, Francis examines the effects of our technological age, defined by the increased virtual connectivity that the Internet provides. Francis’ practice combines used circuit boards, electronic parts, and computer scraps to form intricately
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Uche Uzorka, A Migrant and a Maze, 2012, ink on paper, 55x75cm
designed cityscapes and figurative compositions. The world he creates is literally constructed from the remnants of technologies past, as the abstract forms begin to resemble buildings, streets, and public spaces. Rather than being defined by the spatial limitations of geographically marked lines, his work looks to a world without borders and nationalist alliances. In Power Tale for example, Francis constructs three glass cubes that portray representations of different world cities ... Lagos, New York, and Dakar. While each of these cities centers around a central iconic landmark (the Statue of Liberty for New York, the National Theatre for Lagos, and the African Renaissance Monument for Dakar), its surrounding urban center is created by deconstructing motherboards with its various chips, sockets, ports, and switches. In an evolution of his practice, Francis recently began to incorporate new processes and materials including lights, mirrors, and reflective surfaces. Power Tale is thus an electrical object in its own right, and is plugged in to illuminate LED lights that run through the constructed cities. As an installation, the three cubes work comparatively to
comment on electricity and power inequalities in developing cities. While the New York cube is lit bright, the Lagos cube dimly illuminates in fluctuating rhythm, echoing the wide spread power scarcity that notoriously characterizes Lagos. In fact, the viewer can discern red lights that flicker on and off in the Lagos cube, representing the power generators that kick in when the national power grid fails. As the viewer peers into the glass cube, its reflective surface creates a mirroring effect that gives the illusion of infinity, accentuating the magnitude of urban development and its ever-expanding population. Through the metaphor of the city and its inhabitants, Francis highlights the digital divide and the disparities of groups in their access to communication technologies. He also suggests that the constituents of his constructed world can be aptly defined as â€œnetizensâ€? rather than with a particular regional context, as citizens of the Internet before anything else. While the degrees of power and light may differ in these three cities, they are all fundamentally constructed by the technologies that their inhabitants consume.
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Victoria Udondian, Fog of Colors, life sculptures, Fabrics, wood, varied dimension, 2013. Photo: Jesse Akerele-Omoghe
If Ike Francis builds cities with used electronic scraps, Uche Uzorka similarly explores mapping in his recent series of ink and charcoal drawings. In contrast, however, Uzorka’s interest lies not in the technological environment but by the phenomenological experience of navigating the urban city center. At first glance, Uzorka’s works are best described as abstract drawings, with amorphous shapes and splashes of color flowing together in a free-flowing and seemingly haphazard rhythm. At closer inspection, meticulous attention has been made to create a myriad of overlapping patterns, bodies, and signs, tightly congested together to form a dense combination of complex design. Similar to a Rorschach test, a psychological examination where subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and analyzed by institutional interpretation, Uzorka’s drawings depend on how the viewer interprets the combinations of lines and shapes and connects to various parts of the picture plane. Taking a step back, the drawings begin to depict an aerial view of a busy and vibrant city. In A Migrant and a Maze, sombre tones of black, grey, and red dominate the color spectrum, with overlapping masses that suggest a delineation of land, neighborhoods, or power grids. While some parts of the drawing have been created with multiple layers of ink, others are
sparsely doodled and less congested. In other perspectives, one begins to discern figures with pitch forks, arrows pointing to specific plots, and crudely drawn faces. Uzorka’s concept of the city is articulated through the visual stimulation of Lagos, where competing advertisements, traffic, street hawkers, skyscrapers, and slums bombard one’s sensory experience. After living for many years in Abuja, which in contrast to Lagos is more orderly and quiet, Uzorka’s work explores how cities like Lagos adopt unique and organic processes of street culture. Uzorka’s drawings come to speak to the individual’s movement in space and interaction with others, and the dynamics of connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting on both a personal and collective level. This is not only depicted through the density of the drawings themselves, but also in the viewer’s reception of the work and its micro and macro perspectives. In another exploration of the ambiguous line between cultural identity and global economic patterns, Victoria Udondian questions the evolving definition of “place” in the local and global spheres through an analysis of the history of textiles in Nigeria. Trained as a tailor and fashion designer with a subsequent degree in painting, her work includes installations, sculptures, and canvases that appropriate second-
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Ike Francis, Power Tale, Detail (Lagos), 2014, mixed media installation
hand clothes and fabrics found in local markets to create works that incorporate materials from different time periods and geographies. In her recent project Arti-tude, Udondian created outfits made out of second-hand fabrics derived from research into the history of ethnic clothing in Nigeria, where each outfit represented a particular ethnic group’s traditional style of dress. Udondian then photographed herself wearing the garments, as well as staged a performance where actors posed in the same garments in front of the exhibiting images in a white-cube gallery space. By using unconventional source materials such as used t-shirts, secondhand underwear, and old burlap, these creations are not meant to come across as exact replicas, but rather comment on the conflicting forces that define the textile industry today. As Udondian points out, these traditional designs historically, were formed over many years through cross-cultural exchange and contact with the West. At the same time, many of the patterns and fabrics that have come to be identified as “African” are in fact imported and do not relate to an isolated history of Nigerian textiles. While Udondian reveals the local specificities of cultural traditions that vary in regional and ethnic contexts, she presents them as lost histories in the face of a global
market economy. By using both herself as a model, as well as a group of actors that represent diverse backgrounds, Udondian focuses on the fluidity of identity, where ambiguity not only lies in the one wearing the fashion, but in the history and lineage that formed it in the first place. Ike Francis, Uche Uzorka, and Victoria Udondian all adopt conceptual and mixed media practices to explore varying definitions of the contemporary urban environment in Nigeria. As is symptomatic of many artists working in the country, these artists do not limit themselves to a particular medium or specialty, rather guided by the ideas and processes that form specific projects. Whether by examining the effects of technology, the visceral experience of the bustling city center, or the cultural dynamics of local products, these artists highlight a dialectic between the local and the global that increasingly forms daily experiences in Nigeria. They choose to explore Nigeria not in its generalized portrayal of disorder, but in how these concerns are articulated, mediated, and acted upon. As contemporary art in Nigeria assimilates into the global sphere, it is important to situate its artists not as representative of a remote community that deals with issues solely categorized as “Nigerian” or “African”, but as a cohesive part of the global conversation with integral issues and concerns.
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NIGERIA’S VISUAL ARTS TRAILBLAZERS FOR INTRA-AFRICAN CULTURAL HEGEMONY – A VIEW FROM SOUTH AFRICA WORDS BEATHUR MGOZA BAKER
It’s in our DNA as Africans to move, migrate, to create anew. Our expression of culture is equally dynamic, evolving and changing - even as it is prodded, probed, re-shaped and even ridiculed by younger generations or former colonial powers, who have continued to question its relevance before allowing themselves to embrace its power and influence on their own. Legendary cultural trailblazers like Ben Enwonwu, Chinua Achebe and Ben Okiri throughout history stood in the forefront of change to champion a shift in consciousness toward our continent’s arts and its free expression. In a globalized contemporary context, that shift is now tangible and being witnessed. African art is currently a recognized player in the lucrative contemporary art arena. Art from our continent is embraced and sought out by collectors, galleries and art fairs like never before, while occupying a central position in critical discourse. Our art also
Photo: Vathiswa Ruselo
commands record prices and long overdue respect, with a burgeoning demand internationally – a development the international art world has been calling a ‘boom’, ‘explosion’. This heightened demand impacts positively on the production of new work and the success in financial terms of local artists, galleries and creative entrepreneurs in Nigeria and throughout Africa. As Omenka magazine commemorates 100 years of Nigerian art, we talk with 3 modern day cultural trailblazers; Abdulrazaq Awofeso, gallerist and artist, Usen Obot, and arts and culture manager and recently VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa) Regional Network Development Manager, Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke, to reflect candidly and share their professional experiences, insights and personal journeys about working in the creative arts sector in South Africa a country regarded as art chief economic competitor of the continent.
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Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Fragments from the City, 2011, wood and mixed media, variable dimensions. Photo: Vathiswa Ruseloz
During the apartheid era in South Africa, Nigeria was one of the foremost supporters of Black South African liberation movements, including the African National Congress. The then Nigerian government is said to have issued passports to more than 300 South Africans in exile seeking to travel abroad. Relations were good and beloved Nigerian music legend Sonny Okosun even wrote the empathic hit song: Fire in Soweto in 1977, to commemorate the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprisings in South Africa. What has changed in our relations since then? The experience of Nigerian artist, Abdulrazaq Awofeso in a postliberation South Africa raises some questions about progress in the creative and social spheres in the country – it also highlights the reality of it being a place of opportunity and promise for talented neoexplorers. A bold political and social commentator, Awofeso explores hard-hitting topical themes in his work such as the relationship between citizens and political and economic elites in Africa, as well as xenophobia. After leaving Nigeria, Awofeso made his professional debut in South Africa and went on to find international acclaim for his work but not
before confronting some hard hitting realities.
ABDULRAZAQ AWOFESO You recently returned to Nigeria after several years living and working in South Africa, where you rose to international prominence. You’ve also drawn on that experience extensively to inform your work. Looking back, what can you share about it? As an artist, I’ve consistently been enjoying tremendous patronage from South Africans in the arts and business – from a curatorial perspective to acquisitions of my work, exhibitions, and recommendations. But the process took some time. With hindsight – and abundant gratitude, I think that my stay in South Africa helped me to harness my talent and push my career forward despite the hardships. In Yoruba we say: ‘’A cooking pot for soup must always be prepared to experience the wrath of fire. Arriving in South Africa without any clear indication of how and what I would do to establish myself was a very hard-hitting experience. First of all I could not believe that I was
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FEATURES - COVER STORY advised by people to use the Yellow Pages to look up local art galleries if I wanted to find representation. But I went ahead and did it. I tried making personal contact with several galleries, to no avail. The situation was compounded and made even worse when they discovered I was Nigerian – something which was all the more obvious because of my accent! How did you deal with that kind of engagement and address the challenge? Relentless, I kept on going, looking through newspapers and magazines for new and better ways to connect, find leads and launch myself. I was always searching for art events like exhibition openings that I could attend in order to acquaint myself with the art scene in Johannesburg. It was strange being asked where I come from so often. The sad part of what I witnessed is how several Nigerian artists tried accessing the South African art scene but bailed out quite quickly, resorting to doing work in other disciplines likes trading or simply returning to Nigeria disillusioned. When did you have your first real professional breakthrough in South Africa and did anything change for you once that happened? Eventually, I started getting good leads and information at the art events I went to, about galleries in the city until I found out at that an arts collective, residency and gallery space called ‘The Bag Factory’ in downtown Johannesburg accommodated up-and-coming artists so I approached them. I also submitted my work to the German GoetheInstitut in Johannesburg for consideration in an art competition they were running at the time. Despite my submission being late, I was granted an opportunity to participate. My first triumphant moment came when I was chosen as one of four artists selected for a solo show, which was at last, my professional debut in the country. The tide had finally turned for me, and subsequent shows across the country followed, both on my own and in a group alongside other artists. I saw how my determination had propelled me onward and forward. What are your most enduring insights about the experience, and how would you advise other young artists interested in exploring the country professionally? I got to a point where I was no longer perceived as a ‘Nigerian’ but as an artist – judged on the basis of my work rather than on my ethnic or geographical origin. Several times over, I fell victim to this generalized labeling of foreign nationals. A certain immigration official labeled me a ‘drug dealer’ upon first sight! He visited my studio just as I was about to vacate the space and found my studio almost empty. I insisted we go to some art galleries to view my work as proof of my real occupation. He pointedly refused. And the funny thing is, even the art catalogues I showed him, couldn’t convince him otherwise. I came to realize that this experience of cultural alienation and disconnect even within the creative and artistic community is common for most Nigerian artists, upon their arrival in South Africa. I would want them to know that with perseverance, dedication and hard work, opportunities open up and attitudes can shift and change – ultimately it did for me. What are the opportunities in South Africa for artists and galleries? In business, the modus operandi in the two countries are quite different and I think failing to notice and be aware of this is to one’s detriment. It took me a few years to come to terms with these. South Africa is blessed with abundant resources and opportunities so it is very difficult for people like me from other parts of the continent not to be enticed to go there. However, the country’s immigration laws are designed to curtail an influx of migrants. Prospective ‘creative migrants’ need to tread very carefully and do some research well beforehand.
What I’d like to see changing is Nigerian owned galleries rising and thriving there as so many failed to advance in the South African art scene, failure which in many cases was caused by their own lack of knowledge. What drives, provokes and motivates you as an artist, and what does your work address? I am a fine artist and my involvement in art started in early childhood and grew right through to my tertiary education. My work deals with political, religious or social contexts and themes. I regard myself as an artist with a ‘constructivist’ approach from a trajectory of space, form and color. I find solace in the process of adding, building, constructing and creating work from discarded items. I engage with processes that have to do with combining things – collage, various kinds of addition and mixed media too. Initially, I restricted myself to painting but then at a certain point, the need to express myself beyond a single medium arose very strongly in me, giving birth to a new approach of ‘constructivism’ as I like to call it. This form of expression is something I often see as a process that is evident in all my work combined with form and color, as well as other elements. I found solace in this artistic process; it still gives me the addendum to explore further trajectories in a broader context such as political, religious, social and other related issues. How have you re-integrated into the city and the artistic community now that you are back home in Nigeria? I’m excited; Lagos was recently dubbed one of the ‘future art cities’ in the world with a booming art market, auction houses and more galleries sprouting up than ever before. I feel there is still a lot to be done but I can now be part of that here. Right now I am still gradually re-integrating, but warmly so, into the Nigerian art scene without neglecting the exciting prospects coming my way. For so long the visual arts has been undermined in Nigeria and there is very little artists can do all by themselves without intervention from relevant stakeholders. For example, I’d like to see more opportunities actualizing for artists working with stakeholders such as international cultural institutions and government. Nigeria needs more art historians, curators and art educators to be on par with the number of visual artists we produce. Though glad to be back, I do think our Nigerian government and private institutions need to start engaging with the creative sector more as is being done in South Africa, which is the reason we find living and working there so attractive. What is next for you professionally? I am currently working towards a new exhibition of work which will show at the Johannesburg Art Fair in August 2014. There is also an exciting possibility that I will participate in a London show during Frieze and the 1:54 art week. I’ve also just returned from Dakar as part of the ‘Moving Africa’ artist development programme under the auspices of the Goethe-Institut, and was filled with what I feel is amongst the best new work coming out of our continent and Diaspora. What in your view is exciting that is emerging out of South Africa for artists and for the continent? The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town is an interesting example of a good ‘turn-around’ strategy for an African city’s approach to developing cultural spaces for art. They’ve revamped an old grain silo building into a world class, modern museum. I think we can explore this approach in Nigeria. Lagos, as an ancient colonial site, has lots of dilapidated structures that could easily be converted into an art hub with studios, art events and exhibitions and performances. This could grow our already thriving arts economy in the city. It is clear to me that the
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future of African art is visible from much vigor and splendor around what we can achieve without too much hassle if there is a united front between our countries – the two so-called ‘power houses’, South Africa and Nigeria especially.
IJEOMA LOREN UCHE - OKEKE Accomplished art and cultural management specialist, now Regional Network Development Manager for VANSA (Visual Arts Network South Africa), Ijeoma’s journey to South Africa turned out different to what she had initially planned or imagined – but charmingly so. Daughter of respected and iconic Nigerian artist, author and academic, Uche Okeke, Ijeoma grew up with an inherent love of literature and art, and surrounded by it. Headstrong and determined – but with a ready smile, she progressed rapidly and after completing her studies in South Africa went on to became the Projects Manager for the upmarket Gallery Momo in Johannesburg, for a long time the only Black owned commercial art gallery in the city. Her experience was very different to her intentions and planning, it calls to mind Ben Okri’s reflection on personal intent versus destiny which says: “We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected”. Professionally you’ve propelled and established yourself in the visual arts sector in South Africa and you’re now also contributing to its future growth and development. What motivated your move there Ijeoma? The decision to move to South Africa and settle in Johannesburg was initially motivated by my desire to further my studies at a postgraduate level in order to advance professionally as an arts and culture manager. I wanted to do so in another African context outside of the familiar environment I grew up in. In the two years I spent at WITS, the University of the Witwatersrand specializing in Arts and Culture Management, and Heritage Studies, I was afforded a very interesting view of public art institutions and organizations in South Africa and how they work. What were your observations about the country and the dynamism of Johannesburg with all its inherent contradictions socially and economically? In those two years, I tried to understand the complex social dynamics and cultural contexts within the broader South African society, and as time went on and I became more acquainted with and involved in the visual arts sector, I began to grasp little by little the various layers and levels of engagement. I started working professionally within the sector not long after my post graduate studies concluded, at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg, where I spent three very insightful and developmentally productive years. Once integrated into the very competitive and challenging visual arts community there you could draw parallels between South Africa and Nigeria’s visual arts framework and approach. What insights did you have?
Ijeoma Loren Uche- Okeke
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FEATURES - COVER STORY I began to have some kind of understanding of the very intricate relationships and socio-economic dynamics in the country, as well as the highly politicized and contested nature of the arts. This was quite different from the nature of the visual arts sector in Nigeria – in very distinct ways. The market in Nigeria is more open even though it is guided and governed by its own peculiar politics and not as contested as in the South African context. This openness allows for a multiplicity of players and voices, and for both local and international inputs, which is great. It also creates opportunities for practitioners in the sector to take calculated (and perhaps not so calculated) risks and think outside the proverbial box. In your experience, what is critical to achieve real success in the South African visual arts and cultural sector, and thriving personally? Building good relationships and networking within the sector has been key to accessing opportunities here in South Africa for me. Also important is not having any pre-conceived ideas about what to expect as a non-South African working in what is still a very small and highly specialized field in the country. I consider myself to be a ‘citizen of Africa’, therefore wherever I am on the continent is my home, and I do not view myself as a ‘foreigner’. I just acknowledge that I am in a new environment and I need to learn and understand how this particular environment works. Overall though, I would say that working in South Africa has been a really good learning experience and growth curve for me professionally. I also enjoy the business aspect within the arts so the strong relationships I have built are important to me in terms of creating a bridge that connects my networks here to my networks in Nigeria, and more broadly in West Africa. What have been some of the professional advantages of not being local? Not being South African allows me to navigate within a sector that is relatively closed, quite Western-focused and constantly looking to the West rather than trying to connect with the rest of the continent. I am also not weighed down by the country’s historical baggage and social contexts that have made transformation within the visual art sector relatively slow. However, this is not to say I am unaffected by the challenges that exist within the sector – major issues such as accessibility, broadening the audience and collector base, skills transfer, training and building capacity. You’ve assumed a new position with VANSA, the Visual Arts Network South Africa heading up a strong development portfolio in the arts. What does the role involve and what is your vision? A strong component of my new role as Regional Network Development Manager is building relationships generally with VANSA’s network of creative professionals, initiatives, organizations, as well as public and private institutions and more specifically with creative practitioners outside of the main cosmopolitan centers, in the peripheries. In the past 2 months, I have had the opportunity to travel to 4 out of the 9 provinces in South Africa and have started to engage with some of the creative communities in those areas. VANSA, as a unique arts development organization in Africa is also very interested in building relationships around the African continent and this to me is critical – particularly for South Africa. I am very keen to contribute in any way I can to that vision. We have already started building relationships with organizations in DRC (PICHA) and Nigeria (CCA/ VAN) and we are looking to extend our networks in other regions. Work done by organizations like ourselves can really begin to address a more consolidated Pan African partnership between artists and visual and fine arts professionals. This is a goal that VANSA is actively working
towards. *Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke is also Omenka magazine’s South African editor.
USEN OBOT Fine artist and painter, Usen Obot has spent over ten years working and living in South Africa. He has been exposed to and impacted by the country’s quest for social and political transformation and growth since 1994 in the climate of post-liberation democracy. Obot first arrived in the country in 2003 with some trepidation as there were few Nigerian nationals visible in the creative arts sector then. But far from expressing an avid desire to dive into a critique of the country and its policies, the calm and composed artist has a more evolved view of the world informed by a spiritual connectedness he explores in his paintings. Obot’s other passion is human rights and justice issues – preserving and reflecting the dignity and humanity of Africans. The artist has implemented and facilitated various art and community development projects in his adopted country, working with up-and-coming local artists to nurture their talent and promote them. Growing up, his father, a policeman-turned-court-prosecutor, was a strong influence in his life and commitment to art. The latter instilled a very evident and strong sense of personal discipline in him. His love of people and development is a passion that runs alongside his work as an artist. His most recent solo show, Versus held in 2013, is the culmination of all his years working in South Africa and was lauded as a resounding success. It featured a unique family portrait commissioned by billionaire philanthropist and South African mining magnet, Patrice Motsepe named as one of Africa’s richest individuals. You are currently in the middle of a very exciting next step in your journey as an artist; can you share what you’re developing? It is a proud and exciting moment for me, a realization of a dream. At the end of June 2014, I will be adding gallery owner to my roles in the art world and open the doors of Gallery NOKO here in city of Port Elizabeth, something I look forward to. As an artist your artwork is held in private and corporate collections, internationally. How would you describe your work and approach? My works seeks to interrogate and bring to the fore our inner consciousness that we have not harnessed to influence our society. Primarily it has evolved from two dimensional presentations in pen, ink, water color, oils and acrylic presentations of sites, events, objects as well as emotions and my thoughts. In my most recent work I have focused on the exploration into the use and combination of common materials such as Clay, leather, fabric, skin, Perspex, metal and fiber glass. I’ve worked across mediums in my career to date – from painting to sculpture, installation and site specific work. What does your work deal with thematically and what informs it? Themes I address include gender roles, social injustices – xenophobia, racism, exclusion, domestic violence and the dangers that underpin the African society. In my recent works I have equally worked with color and tried to reflect and encompass our society’s present state, and my experiences - the feelings and thinking that I wish to provoke. My work seeks to clearly interrogate and bring to the fore our inner
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Usen Obot. Courtesy: The artist
consciousness and its workings – what we have or have not harnessed to influence our society. What has your experience been as an artist and now gallerist, living and working in South Africa? It has been a steep learning curve being in a different world as a professional artist. The issues of integration, acceptance and an equitable platform for all artists from diverse backgrounds is at the forefront of drawbacks in South Africa. Major national art calls, awards and competitions in the country often do not accommodate non-resident artists who do not have a ‘green bar-coded’ identity document. Having said that, the creative industries in South Africa are very organized, it is a vibrant playground once you have cut your teeth. The visual and fine arts sector has structured platforms for engagement by both government and the private sector that affords artists opportunities to access audiences and the markets in the country, and on other continents. I would say that compared to sports, music, theatre and drama, the visual arts is the least funded or supported.
You’re the only black gallerist in your region. Tell us about your gallery, Gallery NOKO, and your vision for it. Gallery NOKO is born out of necessity and we are seeking to provide an integrated environment for our immediate community to engage, access and appreciate the visual arts and the discourses it generates. The gallery’s vision is purely to expound the reaches of the visual arts in the region, and our programmes hope to facilitate a new level of dialogue between audiences, art and artists. Our aims include operating an accessible art gallery for visual arts, exhibitions and events in the Nelson Mandela Bay area in the city of Port Elizabeth. I would like to develop a public understanding and appreciation of art. What medium within the visual arts is your primary focus for the gallery? Gallery NOKO is designed to serve as a fulcrum, a space running programmes in parallel with our community that explores multiculturalism through art in the province and beyond. Our focus is on exhibitions of local and international artists, showing progressive contemporary African work; modern and abstract. This will include photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, installation and sound/film
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Usen Obot, Mindshift, oil on canvas, (triptych) 48x60cm each
and multi-media. We will also support, showcase and promote fresh talent, and the vision of established, mid-career and emerging artists alike. I’m really looking forward to doing these and making a difference here. You’ve established yourself as an artist and business in the country. What opportunities exist for Nigerian and other African artists or visual arts related businesses in South Africa? There are many opportunities that exist for other African artists in South Africa but it really depends on some factors like access and patronage – where you live and work, who you work with, your networks and where you exhibit your work. The South African government and private sector should step in to provide more funding for art. They should see art’s importance as an industry that is a catalyst for a healthy community growth and opportunities for synergy. I would say writers; McEnroe and Pokinski sum it up well: “The traditional ways of educating people need to change in order to keep up with our visual world. Science, math, and English are so forcibly supported in our school systems that there has been no time or money devoted to the arts within traditional primary school level education.”
How can ignorance and mistrust be addressed better via a Pan African arts community outlook that grows the visual arts? We need to affirm ourselves and each other. The key words when it comes to this is respect and focus areas of intervention that explore and establish cooperation, collaboration, and more open, integrated platforms for artists. As a gallerist, I had a rude awakening when, even before the gallery officially opened its doors for business, some members of the local art community initiated a backlash by circulating emails dissuading artists from exhibiting work at the gallery, alleging that my gallery is a ‘scam.’ This came despite my consistent professional relationships and practice, developing and participating in community projects, and supporting causes and charities for more than ten years in the country. I believe a proper introduction of art education in primary and high schools will lay a good foundation for the larger community to understand the efficacy and appreciation of the visual arts. Universities and higher institutions, particularly those in countries where negative Western practices were forced onto people for centuries, should include courses in their curriculum specifically affirming African art and identity.
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SOUTH AFRICA’S NIROX SCULPTURE PARK AND ARTIST FOUNDATION WORDS BEATHUR MGOZA BAKER Sculpture predates modernity and has been central to shaping and informing political and religious devotion globally, since antiquity. And Africa is the uncontested, original ancestor of this ancient and magnificent art. Thousands of years after the creation, and subsequent to the discovery of seminal pieces like the Venus of Willendorf, sculptors are still the master craftsmen captivating our imaginations with compelling work in two, and even three-dimensional form. Contemporary sculpture confronts important social themes in society and within us; power, mortality, and our tenuous links with divinity and spirituality, with exciting new materials and experiments in form. Sadly the grand-scale, publicly displayed statement pieces of the past, mostly created in bronze, wood or stone are no longer common or en-vogue in the art world as more commercially viable, smaller scale work preferred by galleries and collectors rises in prominence – work that is viewed as easier to display at art fairs, traditional gallery spaces and in collectors’ homes. With this awareness in mind, Omenka explores a unique sculpture park in Kromdraai, South Africa – a gallery in the wild that encourages and accommodates large scale and boldly experimental new work but also invests in developing artists by enabling their ideas.
Liza Grobler, Honey Drops, 2014, pipe cleaners and wire, variable dimensions each
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Founded by a visionary art philanthropist and humanist, the Nirox Sculpture Park is unique on the continent, conceptually and in its appearance and approach. Conceived as a beautiful and massive sculpture garden, this gallery-in-the-wild is set in nature on fifteen hectares of beautifully wooded, lush grounds inside ‘The Cradle’– a protected world heritage site deemed to be the birthplace of humanity itself! The exhibition space is also the first international artist development programme of its kind in Africa. It is from here, in the tranquility of this magnificent exhibition space – a creative haven, nearly forty kilometers outside of Johannesburg’s frenetic pace and bustle, that the Nirox Foundation operates it arts development, exhibition and residency programmes. The private arts foundation supports a community of artists to create original new work while living on and being inspired by the evocative space. The expansive property with its varied terrain achieved through very minimal landscaping to avoid interfering too much with the course of the natural environment, is also home to works from celebrated local and international sculptors. It recently bustled with visitors and filled with new work curated by the Nirox Sculpture Park as part of their second annual exhibition, the Winter Sculpture Fair. The fair, in its second year, is already a highlight on the international arts calendar. The event features established and experimental contemporary sculpture work, and installation art. Event originators, the Nirox Foundation created the fair as their primary exhibition showcase for innovative new work and voices in the absence of other adequate spaces for showing sculpture free of limitations and in keeping with the creative oeuvre of the artists. The work of leading local and international contemporary artists, primarily sculptors, is magically brought to life by the surrounding outdoors and enhanced by the natural light. In the design of the exhibition space, the landscape has been incorporated and complemented by several man-made and natural lakes, and indigenous bushland. The overall experience is magical – there is even the option of a leisurely picnic between viewings! Visitors to the Nirox Sculpture Park’s 2014 exhibition seemed to
really enjoy the originality of the concept–an outdoor art experience combined with a lifestyle event. The fair attracts close to 5,000 visitors from all around the world – notable amongst these are a sizable contingent of collectors and buyers, as well as international public arts institutions eager to learn, share and collaborate. Public sculpture parks are a treasured feature in cities around the world. For local communities, they bring to life pockets of the neighborhood or town using culture and art, curated creatively to immerse visitors in a new dimension, away from the grind of daily life. Sadly, this brilliant way of making art accessible is not yet a part of the public culture portfolio in South Africa. The man behind the Nirox Sculpture Park and its vision is disarmingly modest about his role though. It was a desire to create an almost transformative experience for art lovers in a beautiful natural setting that motivated Benji Liebmann to create the sculpture park. That, coupled with his strong desire to ensure artists had a dedicated space from which to fashion their work undisturbed, supported, and surrounded by nature. The international artist residency programme is central to his vision to enable artists in a unique and supportive environment. Art and environment blend effortlessly for Liebmann, whose love of the outdoors and landscaping is well known. He works with longtime collaborator, Mary-Jane Darrol who is also Chief Curator of the Winter Sculpture Fair and exhibition. Reflecting on how it all came about in 2007, Darrol chats as she ushers around local and international collectors viewing pieces, and basks in their enjoyment of the very different, yet complementary works. “At the time, Benji Liebmann owned an adjacent farm and had bought a new work of sculptor, Edoardo Villa, whose work he loves and collects. He was so impressed by the work of the artist that he offered him accommodation and a studio on his farm. Villa declined the offer though but said, he would love to exhibit there”, recalls Darrol. Within a short time, Liebmann acquired two other
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Rodan Kane Hart, Structural Palimpsest, 2014, powder coated mild steel, brass, copper, aluminum and wire. H. 600 x L.130 x W. 130cm
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FEATURES neighboring properties and set about creating the sculpture park, taking down fences and allowing the animals more freedom to roam about freely in it. Liebmann graciously sidesteps any inference to himself and his contribution to the very successful event. His commitment in steering the foundation is to enable artists in the creation of new and original work and placing them in the center of the process to allow them full expression in the space. “For me it’s about them. I’d much rather dwell on the artists and projects that the foundation has been able to support. It’s about production, which is critical.” “We have no clear or pre-set vision but the Nirox Foundation is responsive to the artists we work with, responding to their stimulus and the environment we’re in. Perhaps the only central concept that guides and informs our approach is that we value excellence and the power of nature”, he says. This year’s exhibition featured the work of known local and international artists such as Angus Taylor, Daya Heller, Ledelle Moe, Michele Mathison, Fran Van Reenin, Beth Armstrong, Willem Boschoff, Jop Konneke and Jeremy Rose, who created the work, Mandela’s Cell. Mary-Jane Darroll says themes are not predetermined in curating the annual exhibition but emerge organically from artists’ submissions. This year, it is clear that very strong overall themes have revealed themselves in the work submitted such as man and his relationship to animals that emerge in several dogs, as well as birds appearing in many different guises. There is also the hard-hitting socio-political themes of crime and xenophobia, as well as seeringly intimate explorations of solitude, feminine identities, and isolation. Part of the success of the Winter Sculpture Fair as an event undoubtedly lies in the unique approach to making art a multi-sensory experience – a heady combination of delicious food, wine and other delicacies on offer, together with evocative artwork all within a natural environment under the balmy, warm Winter sun in this case. The strategically placed blends with the environment and even in the open spaces – something the artists clearly love, judging from the bold, experimental and even playful expressions in their work, which complement it. Asked about his founding philosophy and
Angus Taylor, Morphic Resonance, 2014, rammed earth and polished Belfast granite, H. 250 x L. 266 x W. 390cm
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Marco Clanfanelli, Vertical Figure 1, 2014, laser-cut mild steel, 247 x 75 x 50cm. Photo: Mary-Jane Darroll
approach, a characteristically laid back Liebmann explains how, from the time of its inception, the foundation has chosen to keep its approach simple and open, responsive to the needs and ideas of artists living and working there. “What we like is that here, artists can say and do more or less whatever they want, and that they sit outside conventional structures and ideas. We engage with ideas as they come. In this way, we are constantly learning and changing.” “This move away from the traditional gallery approach to displaying work is intentional”, says Liebmann, “it is a deliberate choice by the park to move away from the conventions and demands of a traditional setting. It’s what keeps visitors coming back to experience new work in a whole new way – and the artists concur.” The result, he says, is “award-winning work and an artist brief that is open and non-prescriptive, encouraging them to go further, deeper into their expression and always bolder than they otherwise would have.” This approach is also why the residency programme is so popular.
An added bonus the artists cite is that large numbers of people turn up to enjoy the work and take something from it. Scale is another unique and compelling factor that informs and enriches the audience experience visiting the sculpture park. One gains an unsurpassed artistic experience standing before some of the larger pieces such as Morphic Resonance, the life-like work of renowned sculptor, Angus Taylor or Daya Heller’s striking solitary human figure overlooking the lake and representing the female ancestor in Africa. One is at once humbled by their size in relation to ours. We are reminded of our mortality, while being overtaken with the awe of their intimacy and presence as they look down on you – much like our forefathers would have done in ancient times. Taylor and Heller capture what ancient sculptors understood well about our relationship to the art form. According to the curator, historically, works on show at the Winter
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Daya Heller, The End and The Beginning, 2014, cement, steel and bronze, H. 200 x 65 deep x W. 60cm. Photo: Werner Strauss
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Michele Mathison, Breaking Ground, 2014, steel, H. 400 x L. 200 x W. 100cm
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Sculpture Fair go on to become landmark pieces, winning awards globally as a result of an open brief to artists and their responsiveness and originality in turn. Another positive outcome for artists is that most of the work exhibited in the space sells and affords them an income. Considering that most sculpture work is commission-based, this is something the artists enjoy. One of the other enormously popular cultural events that happens at the Nirox Sculpture Park is live music events which draw a complimentary and large following of music lovers, of jazz in particular. One series of events is produced in partnership with Gallery Momo and features a picnic with live jazz on the lawns. The foundation is focused on audience development, expanding both the profile and demographic of visitors’ numbers to reflect a much wider demographic of South Africans and Africans. A dream,
Liebmann is already exploring, in creating similar projects with partners across the African continent to capacitate artists so they can work, experiment and grow in a supported environment, and contribute to the body of new work emerging on the continent. The dedication with which Benji Liebmann and his team have developed the Nirox Foundation and Sculpture Park has not gone unnoticed. In 2011, he was awarded Business Arts South Africa’s ‘Art Champion’ of the year award for contributing to development in the visual arts, and in 2013, he was also nominated for the Sovereign African Art Prize. As the sun prepares to set, casting a final burst of warm light eastward, it magically brings to life, the breathtaking work of artist, Marco Clanfanelli by running fingers of light through its slatted human form to create the illusion of a transcendent human filled with light. One can again fully appreciate the value and beauty of setting the work and the exhibition in such a unique environment.
Simon Zitha, Sunrise and Bova II, 2014, bronze, steel and patina, variable dimension, edition 1of 5
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Published on Feb 17, 2015
Omenka is also Africa’s premium art, business and luxury-lifestyle magazine. It has expanded its focus to include content on architecture an...