Sunday, 11 November 2012

With 'The Progress of Love', porn art sneaks in


IN Ivorian artist, Valerie Oka’s latest show of drawings and installations art, nudity takes centrestage.

Held at the gallery of Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, for over two weeks, the Ivorian artist’s interpretation of CCA’s umbrella’s theme The Progress of Love, a project expected to involve five more artists within and outside Africa, codes pornography in a manner that is direct and obvious. In fact, given the graphical sexual illustrations, labeling it porn-art, will not be out of place.
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At the gallery’s entrance, an inscription warns: ‘Due to the Adult contents, this exhibition is not suitable for persons under 18 years old.’

A set of four lip-prints on white cardboards titled Kiss Me PLEASE!!!, bids a visitor to the show welcome, while preparing the mind for further physical interpretation of love.

Visitors produced this ‘Lips’ printing on the last of the four cardboards, during the show’s opening.

Were the lips prints from female visitors only? “No, it’s not just females, but men too,” a guide in the gallery, says. And if there was any suggestive force in the lip-prints performance, the results on the white cardboards showed no clue.

However, next to Kiss Me PLEASE!!! unveils the real character of the artist’s physical interpretation of love as Love Me or Hit Me, three drawings on black canvas exploit woman’s nudity, openly, in a suggestive and lone sensuous actions.
 
 If one thought American artist, Jeff Koons’ Made In Heaven series and similar works from western artists were the peak of porn in art, the recent Oka show at the CCA added to the growing list of art crossing into the X-rated zone.

This further could be seen in a set of four drawings depicting couples in oral sex. Inscribed in French language, the drawings could have been a graphic reproduction from a pornography material or from the privacy of the artist, like that of Koons’ Made In Heaven Series. Koons painted several sexual intercourses, supposedly involving him and his, then wife Staller. 
 
THE synergy between violent sex and alcohol comes to the fore in Oka’s installations of a bedroom scene: floor littered with bottles of drinks, packs and butts of cigarettes as well as wood sculpture of the ladies’ toy in condoms.

The video installation, left top of the bed, projects a typical violent sex scene. Though in French, supportive inscriptions on the wall, which explain hot exchanges between a man and his woman victim show the painful side of pleasure some women go through.

The Progress of Love presentation, according to CCA will also feature performance works of Jelili Atiku, Andrew Esiebo, Temitayo Ogunbiyi and Adaora Nwandu (Nigeria), Wura-Natasha Ogunji (US) and Zanele Muholi (South Africa).
Valerie Oka
  
OKA lives and works in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. She studied at the Ecole Superieure d’Arts Graphique and graduated in 1990. She has taken part in several shows across Africa including Gallery Kajazoma, Abidjan (2012); Nirox Foundation, Johannesburg; the Dakar Biennale, Dakart (2000 and 2006) and others.
  She has presented her Performances and Happenings at Nirox Projects, Johannesburg (2011) Bouv'Art, Cotonou (2003) and Le terries set à nous, Dakar (2002).

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