Sunday 29 July 2012

Atiku… exporting activism via art

In about nine art events spanning a period of three months across Europe and the Americas, activist and performance artist, Jelili Atiku shares his local experience on human dignity.
He is currently in Sweden giving performance and lecture in an event, which involves participants from the host country as well as Norway, Nigeria and Uganda. Atiku had earlier performed at Tate Modern, London, U.K.
Via The Internet, the artist explains his thought on the London event themed The Tanks: Ethics of the Encounter, disclosing that his performances in the tour are follow-ups to “my ongoing In the Red series.” 
From making regular art such as painting and sculpture, Atiku, in the last six years has taken his art into the realm of purposeful and relevant expression, making activism out of creative adventure. Exporting his art in a medium of expressing dissatisfaction with policy makers, home and at the global stage, appears to have grown in leaps for Atiku. And when he states that his next artist talked at Tate Modern was titled Gbangbayahu: An Intervention with Human Dignities, the Atiku resilience in bold expression comes to mind. And that ‘Gbangbayahu’, (in Yoruba means plain sight or open wilderness), stresses the Lagos-based artist’s message about confronting policies that dignifies a people.
For the foreign audience to appreciate his presentation, past performances in Nigeria, he explains, were shown via video. Such works include Agbo Rago (Ram Ranch), Ewawo: The Awaiting Trial Persons Holding Charge, In The Red, Who’s Afraid of FoI Bill?
   For the performance, he says, it was participatory as “audience members took part in the performance,” which he explains is the 14 th of his In the Red series. 
Performance artist Jelili Atiku in a human plant character.
Is there any difference between the performances he did in Nigeria and the tour shows? He says the show on tour was about audience-participatory kind. “After laying out 24 pieces of red cloth I create a placard inviting people to stand on the cloth, by way of entering the performance, then would weave my way through the group, washing their feet. This will continue until each person has had their feet washed. Each person in the performance from the audience will write on the red paper (card), which they stood on.  This will be done immediately I wash each person’s feet. They will simply write words going on in their minds in the course of the performance. It could be anything..!”
In Sweden, Atiku’s art activism continues as he joined others on the theme Democracy and Human Rights: Cultural Actors’ Expert Exchanges at Antroposophical Art-therapy School (White House), Culture Centrum, Järna. “It is communicative measurements that possess potentials for wider dissemination the values, which can help shape opinion and encourage dialogue on the issues of democracy and human rights, gender equality and the role of women in development.
“I presented a talk, which I titled “God’s Expedition: The Mirror in Me” – where I x-rayed my experience as political artist with concerns for human rights and justice based in Nigeria. Quoting Gilbert’s (1998) statement, “everything in life comes down to politics.”
 Participants included artists, human rights activists, educationists, ecologists, environmentalist and green living advocate, and entrepreneur such as Adesola Aduke Alamutu-iyayi, Ayodele Oluwanishola Taofiq-Fanida, Ogedegbe Bekederemo and Kolawole Kazeem Olojo-Kosoko (Nigeria); Francis Cosmos, (Ghana/Sweden); Gunilla Örjebo, Helene Aurell, Jenny Höglund, Katrine Larson, Mikaela Stenius, Par Granstedt (Sweden); James Kimera Ssekiwanuka, Joseph Luganda (Uganda), Maria Grette, Signe Johannessen (Norway/Sweden), Nigel Wells (UK/Sweden), Pål S. Gunnäs (Norway).
He stresses that “the The objectives of the expert exchange were to promote both openness and democratic, economic and social advancement in developing countries." 

And there is a collaboration with a Yorkshire artist, Dr. Graham Martin in Northern England (Cumbria, Carlisle, Scarborough and York) from ending August 8 2012. The theme, of the collaboration, he says is Art and Humanity.
  “It is pertinent to mention that for over a year Dr. Martin and myself have been engaged in dialogue concerning the possibility of working together. Tate Modern’s invitation to present my work at The Tanks: Ethics of the Encounter, London this summer has made this collaboration possible.
  “Martin is an artist based in Yorkshire - his art covers text, photography, actions, and mixed media objects and often addresses social and human concerns albeit in a playful way. He has received numerous Arts Council grants and has shown across UK and in Germany, Russia, Italy and” Mongolia. He was a special guest at the 4th Free International Forum in Bolognano Italy in 2010. His 2011 solo show at Gallery 11 Bradford, The Revolution is Healing, was inspired by Joseph Beuys notion of ‘a collective negation of common humanity’, and explored common wounds, healing and the contemporary accumulation of loss. Dr. Martin is also director and curator.”
As installation sculpture, Ewawo: The Awaiting Trial Persons was performed was exhibited in 2005 at Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja. The show was his protest against the ambiguous ‘Holding Charge’ used to detain suspect unlawfully police stations across Nigeria.
At a ram market and during 11th Lagos Book and Art Festival in Lagos as well as 2nd African Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA), Abuja, Nigeria he performed Agbo Rago.

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