BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
In making his art relevant to the dynamics and challenges of society, Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya found himself lost in the wilderness of activism.
The thirst for creative adventure has taken the artist across nations such as Benin Republic, Ghana residing in each of these countries until he found a base in the U.S. where he is currently a resident.
Being a nomadic artist has offered Akindiya, who prefers to be known as Akirash, an opportunity to engage in community-favoured art adventure.
|Akirash, working on one of his installations.|
From his U.S. base, Akirash, recently, sent information about his continued exploration of the American art scene. Latest, in this regard, he discloses, were his involvement in a 30 edition-old Triangle Art Association, New York Anniversary and performance/fund raising for educational disadvantaged people.
A conceptual artist, among his recent installations and performances, he says, were those he presented during the Triangle Art as well as at Vytlaci shows in Brooklyn, also in New York.
Always exploring issue-based themes, Akirash, in his latest work raises alarm over the future of developing countries whose economic survival depends on a super power like the U.S.
“For three years now, my work focuses economy of countries where I found myself. The U.S., where I now live – and a donor or saviour of other countries – is also complaining. Its health insurance is in big mess, unemployment is increasing daily and accommodation is very tough.”
One of the works in which he expresses his views on economic, perhaps, political dilemma of the dependants and donors is titled Eni Kan L’omo (He who Feels the Pains). Viewed from a soft copy, it’s a collage of weaved shirt ties, in which the texture – from top down – changes, perhaps indicating the calibration of economic performance as it affects the donor and recipient countries.
Other works, which the artist sent via soft copies, show his aggressiveness, perhaps erratic rendition, in mostly mural sizes. And by extension, Akirash unleashes similar energy on a three dimensional and life-size sculptural installations.
And comes the activism part of the artist: he is currently involved in a project christened Eje Lepo (Blood Donation). It’s a metaphor for rescuing less privileged people from the flood of ignorance, Akirash states. “It’s about saving the lives of those in need in such areas as education, which grants people the opportunity and access to knowledge and power, and can therefore lead to the revitalisation of a community.”
He recalls being invited to Myanmar to take part in an international art festival, late last year after staging the first part of the performance in South Africa.
“Blood as metaphor in educated persons have the power to influence other people, their community, their country and make the world a better place to live. Many youths from third world countries dream of travelling to developed countries in order to better their living conditions, and search for opportunities.”
Akirash did not just stop at performance; he also used the social media such as Facebook to raise fund for the people.
He enthuses I recent post: “Today is a great day for Eje Lepo! We’ve raised 10% of our goal,” and pleads: “Help me use performance and installation art as weapon to fight ignorance, poverty, sustainable health and unemployment in Myanmar”.
|Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya (Akirash)|
Akirash recalls he studied Bio Chemistry, “but got a calling in art in 1992, when I added Fine and Applied Arts at the institute of Textile Technology Oregun, Lagos,
He insists on building on his unchanging art goal or direction. “Life is a quest for art,” he argues. The quest, he stresses, “began with my research: studying, asking, sleeping and dreaming. I tried to record this process through my art, to make you feel the same way I do when the spirit of creativity is with me.”