Sunday 16 September 2012

In visuals, ladies clean the water

 FROM an earlier alarm about global water scarcity raised through a group art show, Water E No Get Enemy, the African Artists Foundation (AAF) has added a new dimension to its campaign on man’s attitude to water. With the theme, Water and Purity, AAF has shifted its focus to cleanliness.

Collaborating with Chevron, the show, quite deliberate in the choice of artists, is an all-female gathering, held at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos and featured installation, photography as well as video art.
Folashade Ogunlade’s installation, The Available Water
 For reasons beyond mere art appreciation, a venue such as The Wheatbaker is attractive to art promoters especially because of its high net-worth guests that patronize such facility. However, often times, bar or restaurant where such shows are mounted, usually swallow the works, as creative content of the exhibits are completely dwarfed by the lavish ambience of the space.  
    But with works of Folashade Ogunlade, Taye Idahor and Alafuro Sikoki come a relief that art show in a non-gallery space could be worth the visit.
     In fact, each of these installations show that there are Nigerian female artists with the potential of a Marina Abramovic or Tracey Emin.
     For Ogunlade, whose work on Naira, missed the jury’s attention at the last AAF national competition, her installation, The Available Water, shows how water has created categories of users, based on when the individual receives it, from its pure to the impure state.
   “For some people, the impurity of water is the only choice,” she explains shortly after mounting her figures, which represent a regular domestic scene.
    She says, ‘the dried bones’ part of the installation ‘represents death,’ which is the outcome of taking unclean water. 
    While Idahor goes metaphorical with her life-size sculpture of a lady; linking her thoughts on water, within the context of the theme, to the exploitation of women by the mass media, particularly advertising industry, Sikoki’s laboratory-like installation, New World Water (NWW), depicting clay pots says much about African traditional way of purifying water. 
AND that visual commentary over mass media’s exploitation of the female body is coming from a lady, is indeed courageous and honest. Idahor notes that the work correlates with the commercial role of women in the advertising industry, and laments how young women are always ready to offer their bodies to promote products and services.
   Sikoki says her lab treatment depiction is an argument about the possibility of using local resources to purify and preserve water. She explains, “ it explores the issue of clean drinking water in African communities by industrialising and celebrating the humble and ancient clay pot.”
    Indeed, the gathering is a familiar terrain for her. At the same venue, AAF, in collaboration with The Netherlands Embassy in Lagos, showed Water No Get Enemy, which featured 12 artists including Sikoki.
CURATED by Zainab Ashadu, the show, according to AAF, aimed at exploring concepts that will shape a new consciousness on water, its use and misuse, its scarcity, the seemingly intractable access to potable water and the consequences.”

From Waterblot series still photographs of water reflection capture of Medina Dugger, Peju Alatise’s embossed mixed media painting, Erin Ijesha; to Aisha Augie-Kuta’s four piece aerial view of water and land, The Source, and Priscilla Nzimiro’s Womanity, the central theme of the gathering appears well articulated in the hands of these ladies who showcased their creative prowess.

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