Sunday 15 May 2016

For Udondian, Time To Think Outside The Box With Installation

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Stuck to her museum-style presentation of concepts, Victoria-Idongesit Udondian takes the floor and walls, among 12 other artists currently showing till May, 24, 2016 at Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City,  N.Y in a group exhibition.
Instatllation by Victoria-Idongesit Udondian currently showing in New York

In a fictitious theme of Nigerian Pavilion, Udondian, a Lagos-based artist, funnels her thought about boundaries that impede creativity, distilling a sub-theme Out Of The Box. Framed within an imaginary Nigerian Pavilion at 56th Venice Biennale, the featured artists include Raven Smay, Ego Goodsire, Kirbeh Get and  Doundi  Victoriana who practised within and outside Nigeria. She describes the artists as those "who push the conceptual and   material boundaries of  local  and  global  artistic  standards."

The group show in which Udondian is presented her Nigerian Pavilion concept is Columbia University 2016 MFA Exhibition and features colleagues: Jenny Cho, Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, Devra Fox, ektor garcia, Cy Gavin, Ilana Yacine Harris-Babou, Mike Hewson, Brooke Holloway, Cary Hulbert, Bryan Jabs, Coby Kennedy, Tali Keren, Rola Khayyat, Jonah King, Emily Kloppenburg, Pablo Montealegre, Filip Lav, Justin Dale Olerud, Meredith Sands, Michael Stablein, Jr., Rachel Stern, Alex Strada, Cameron Welch and Jiwoon Yoon. 

  Presenting Out of the Box for her MFA theses at the Columbia show appears like Udondian is on a familiar journey. Ahead of her applying for the MFA, she produced quite a number of works, at her residencies in Europe and Africa, that focused on trajectory of African fabrics/textiles, and presented in installations. For a period of four years, Udondian engaged the African fabric theme across Africa and Europe, and returned to Lagos where she hosted Open Studio. At the well-attended event she shared her experience with art connoisseurs and other community of art enthusiasts in Lagos.

 For the Columbia MFA exhibiion, the theme is different, but the presentation appears familiar. Udondian explains that the  'Box' in the context of the presentation,  "represents multiple forces and pressures that restrict  the  creativity  of  many  Nigerian  artists  today." She lists the forces to include "identity, traditional canons, artistic conventions and the shadow  of   Africanness."  

Excerpt from Udondian Artist Statement: "Through socially   engaged work, Smay calls attention to the darker side of transnationality for  African  artists   marked  by  their  national  identities  as  they  attempt  to  navigate  the  global  art  world.  Goodsire, on the other hand, explores the multilayered cultural, political, ethnic and religious identities   present within the  bounds  of  modern  Nigeria  itself.  

 “His conceptual and serial photographic   projects, which straddle the line between fine art photography and photojournalism, question   the unity and existence of a national identity at all.  Get, with his design-­based conceptual   practice, imagines a different future or Africa through the rendering of impossible   architectural spaces,  while  Victoriana’s  art  fashioned  from  globally  sourced  second-­hand   clothing  revels  in  materiality  and  bodily  presence.     

 "Outside the Box showcases artistic practices that expand the range of materials, ideas and   techniques available to future generations of artists working in Nigeria—and  “Outside” it.  This project is made possible through individual supports and the National Gallery of Modern   Art, Lagos."

Among Udondian's pre-MFA projects was her concept of second-hand clothing theme, in South Africa where she stumbled on a lost tradition of native fabric.

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