Sunday 6 January 2019

Emerging performance art of Durodola for social justice

A Yusuf Durodola-led performance titled Kíni Ohun Ètùtù at Sabo, Yaba, Lagos.

Against the tide of fine art and its strong commercial drive, performance artists in Lagos hardly get   attention. In fact, the numerical strength of artists from the performance genre in Lagos appears stagnantly under four or five.

Yusuf Durodola is one of such few artists whose work in conceptual art medium, has been increasingly bolder on Lagos art hub. Lagos, at least in the last one decade, has not exactly been strange to performance art. In fact, one of the globally known performance artists of African descents, Jelili Atiku, set out his dawn of career here in Lagos.

For Durodola, the scale of proliferation is perhaps part of the strategy to push his performance work constantly on the conservative art landscape of Lagos. Sometimes he takes his fine art background along, appropriating the themes in paintings.

Mostly exhibited in public spaces, sometimes along the walkways of reckless drivers-infested Lagos roads, Durodola's performance -- in thematic context -- speaks to the root of his environment's developmental challenges.
For example, his last performance titled 'Agbegilere' (Carver) interrogates what he described as "the on-going issues between Government and its workers".

This year alone, Durodola has actually been prolific with such works as Ipa in September, at the School of Art, Design and Printing,  Yaba College of Technology, Lagos; Ohun Etutu, at Sabo, Yaba with five co-performers; and Global Hues at Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka, Lagos.

"Ipa centres on making marks which are created knowingly or unknowingly, it may be visible or invisible,  permanent or temporary and at times out of negligence". He noted that in whatever manner such marks occurs, the effect is negative or positive.

"Marks serve as an evidence of actions which invariably impart the populace involved", he explained shortly after the performance. "Therefore,  it is pertinent for us to be conscious of the consequences of the  mark we choose to make on the sand of time".

Most of his performances appear to derive some kind of strength in themes woven around native Yoruba idioms, adage or proverbs. The motivation to sustain originality of some of his chosen subjects, he said, inspired the Yoruba themes.
He recalled starting with English themes earlier in his last performances, "but the more I think and I engage myself in the performances, the more I discover myself and I try to be sincere as I could".

And when he chose to feature other artists early this year, he seemed to be spreading his own 'gospel' of performance art to younger artists. The work titled Kíni Ohun Ètùtù featured Afolabi Atiye Andrew, Ogunkunle Niyi, Adenuga Modupeoluwa, Olukowi Kayode Daniel and Yusuf Omotayo, and held at Sabo, a high traffic commercial axis on Lagos Mainland.

Heavily costumed with fabrics tied nearly all over his body, including the legs, Durodola generated attentions at the busy Sabo bus station. In the performance, he distils an analogy of prosperous nation from recurring hopeless situations. The performance explains that if the sacrificial elements to structure a nation are love and trust, the ultimate questions have to be answered: "who is to provide the elements?, who is to perform the sacrifice? And where is the sacrifice be placed?"

Still on the quest for a virile nation, another performance titled Eekan places strong institutions on whatever holds it.  "Every enduring edifice is dependent on the strength of the Pillar", Durodola argued. "No nation can ever experience peace without positive thinkers and  progressive mindset".
 The work challenges everyone to bring something onto the table, particularly "from those who represents the societal pillars". And beyond the leaders' ability or inaction, every member of a society is also in the ring. "We are all saddled with the responsibility of sustaining the pillar at different levels. What we do with it goes a long way to impart our milieu either positively or negatively".

Globalisation, perhaps attracted the artist's attention when he performed Global Hues.
It takes off with analyzing the power of education, either formal or informal, in strengthening people's potentials. As much as
man's power of knowledge empowers them to make contributions to their environment, Durodola asked: "But what manner  of contributions?"
 With Global Hues, he highlights how people connects to others and each side's "responsibility as human to this world as we continuously change the world with the contents of our character which are constantly reflecting through our fellow being".

Everyone must own their environment, he advised, noting that "when we put smiles on the faces of others, the world will be at peace and when it is sorrow, it will be in agony and distress".

Performed at Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka, Lagos as part of the opening ceremony of its 50th anniversary, Global Hues also explains how humans "are the colours of the world!". In fact, the performance states: "We are the change the world is earnestly  awaiting".

The artist's bio: Durodola b. 1979, in Nigeria, is a versatile painter, experimentalist and performance artist. His works project issues surrounding human existence, focusing on environmental pollution, echo system, human behavior and belief, culture and sensitization. His experimental works imply transformation of disposable items with infusion of pattern formation. His current works are based on road and drainage mapping, using drawing and painting in an abstract form through navigation into the architectural structure of the space.
 -Tajudeen Sowole.

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