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Terror of knowledge, arts of survival headline LABAF 2016

By Florence Utor
09 November 2016   |   2:29 am
The 18th Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF) 2016 kicks off tomorrow, Thursday, with Publishers Forum at Goethe Institut, Lagos, with major activities ...
Nwosu-Igbo

Nwosu-Igbo

The 18th Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF) 2016 kicks off tomorrow, Thursday, with Publishers Forum at Goethe Institut, Lagos, with major activities starting proper from November 11 through 13 and will hold at Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos Island. The festival has as theme ‘The Terror of Knowledge: Education as a Terrifying Weapon Against the Forces of Darkness.’

To curate the visual arts section of the festival is Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo of Mild Red Studios, Lagos. The five mixed and multimedia artists participating at the exhibition are Aderemi Adegbite (photography/film), Efe Paul Azino (spoken word), Jelili Atiku (performance), Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo (installation) and Bob-Nosa Uwagboe (mixed media).

The curator, Nwosu-Igbo, explained the conceptual basis for the show, when she said, “There is a crucial need to create and improve new, radical and well-founded tactics of fighting, surviving, and collective action to be able to exist in Nigeria of today. Who Will Blink First? suggests an arranged, time-based, three-dimensional village meeting where the exhibition hall will serve as a site for exchange of survival ideas.

“The idea units are prepared by four artists and one spoken-word performer, representing mixed media painting, literature, performance, installation, photography and film, and all units’ point of departure is education as a weapon in recession survival and engaging artistic approaches. A central emphasis of the art produced from each unit will show how acquired knowledge from personal experiences has formed the artists’ ideologies and helped them and others stand their ground against difficult times and political conflicts”.

Adegbite: My work ‘Summer Trips’ is a reflection of my moving around within spaces with similar history to mine. At times, I am aware of this connection and sometimes it takes years for me to connect the dots. This body of work explores two years of travelling between Germany and Czech Republic. And this effort presented in this show is inspired by the stamps I collected, the book by Franz Kafka given as a gift, and the photographs I made through the photo booths. Basically, the series is about movement and personal history. This is the reason I used text, stamps and photographs to narrate the story.

Atiku: In the exhibition, I will enact and install the objects of performance titled, Hunhun-un-un (Maanifesito V). The performance will attempt to question our sense of reasoning in sustaining our collective histories and memories. It will make reference to the 161-year-old (1855 – 2016) Ọláìya Family House (popularly known as Ilọjọ Bar/Casa di Fernandez), which was declared a national monument in 1956 by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and demolished by developers on September 11, 2016. The performance is one of the series in my on-going performance project, Maanifesito, which strives to make statements/comments on Nigerians’ political experiences that are characterised with “multilateral forms of imperialism, colonial and neo-colonial manipulation, military dictatorship, corrupt leadership, pseudo-federal system, ethnic domination, mass poverty, lack of political manifestos and the people will to hold on, etc.

Azino: My work focuses on love, how it unravels. Who blinks first? Who initiates the birth of a relationship or its death?
Nwosu-Igbo: The installation I have in this show is ‘I Will Huff and Puff and Blow Your House Down’ and it investigates our attitudes as people. We have built this shaky establishment for the “us vs. them” mind-set that we all have. When we understand that we have more in common than differences, then we may begin to heal as humans. Let’s break down these barriers of mentality; use these broken walls of “better ethnicity” and bias to build bridges of patience and kindness. Go ahead and blink first! It doesn’t matter. Your act of tolerance does not depict weakness or sell-out.
Uwagboe: My presentation in ‘Who will blink first’ is directed on the illicit proliferation of small and large firearms. The collection came from the burning desire to refresh the minds of the audience to the dangers associated with unregistered gun, the unchained dog, the abuse of power, the elite and his gunman and the herdsmen and the guns.

The unregistered arms pattern poses a very serious problem to both international and national security, especially in some parts of Africa that have witnessed the most monumentally destructive and violent conflicts over the years. From the genocide in Rwanda, long conflicts in Liberia (1989-97), the Sierra Leona crisis, the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, the prevailing unrest in Niger Delta, the Boko Haram insurgence in the northern parts of Nigeria. The eastern part of Nigeria is also affected by the recent Biafra agitations etc.

On Friday, there will be ‘Lagos of the Poets’ as tribute to Lagos at 50 and ‘Authors Convention.’ Also on Saturday, there will be lots of book events to excite book lovers. Authors Convention, with the theme ‘New Generation Fiction: Status Update,’ will feature readings and conversations, authors in conversation include Obinna Udenwe (Satans and Shatans), Sam Omatseye (My Name is Okoro), Rex Odoemenam (Far Together), Henry Akubuiro (Prodigals in Paradise) and Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju (When Lemons Grow on Orange Trees), and will be moderated by Jumoke Verissimo while special guest author will be Toni Kan, whose new book, The Carnivorous City, just came out. Detailed festival information available at www.lagosbookartfestival.org.

A regular feature of the festival, Art Stampede, will close the book fest on Sunday. It has as theme ‘Winner Takes All: Evolution of Nigerian Contemporary Literature; 30 Years After the Nobel.’ The keynote will be delivered by Head, Department of English, University of Lagos, Prof. Hope Eghagha. Lead discussant will be Femi Olugbile, with Kanine Agary, Tade Ipadeola, Henry Akubuiro and Dami Ajayi as other discusssants and moderation by President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Malam Denja Abdullahi.

Colloquium, symposium, film screening, festival party, poetry slam, children’s festival and mentorship are some of the highlights of LABAF 2016.

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