Visited Re.Le Art Gallery over the weekend. It opened its doors in February 2015 on the Lagos Island…sitting precisely on 5 Military Street Onikan. On exhibition was; Interactions: Crossing Lines featuring works by Soji Adesina and Uthman Wahab. Keeping to its theme the art on the display crossed the lines from the canvas and interacted with its surrounding walls.
Was mostly drawn to The Coffee and Cigarettes Series by Soji Adesina
His body of work touched on bits of Cultural Imperialism; according to the artist drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes are amongst a number of imported habits consciously or unconsciously practised by Nigerians as culture. Through this body of work he expresses his feelings on how Nigerians are developing a habit of replacing their culture with imported habits. It got me thinking of the things I do leisurely which are not indigenous to me as a Nigerian.
Coffee On Lace above was my most favourite piece from the series. I think the lady’s haughty expression coupled with her wearing what appears to be lace in ‘Iro and Buba’ native to my tribe ‘Yoruba‘ perfectly depicts this message of cultural imperialism.
I awoke to my ‘Nigerian-ess’ a couple of years back. Before then I have to confess I like the ladies on canvas and a lot of other Nigerians aspired to and took on a lot of foreign habits as culture. No thanks to cultural imperialism a lot of us Nigerians still consciously or unconsciously see western cultures and habits as a benchmark for sophistication; as ideal.
I am currently learning to reject stereotypes about my nationality and race, embracing who I am as an African, well educated the western way but still upholding my culture and traditions as ideal. Was thrilled to see my feelings about these issues on canvas.
Uthman Wahab’s body of work called The Fat African Ballerina series also touches on aspects of imperialism. I would probably call it ‘Media Imperialism’ …gah don’t know if such a term exists. His work featured paintings of Fat Black Ballerinas and women. It challenges the mainstream concept of a white slim ballerina as the ideal image for a ballerina.
A common theme amongst the fat ballerinas and women was the use of digital devices for social media. Most of the women had mobile devices with them. According to Uthman the artist, people interact on social media but don’t really understand the full situation of their social media friends. Flipped around; people who are socially excluded because of their appearance create an acceptable profile on social media, on social media they can be socially included, so they take solace in it.
I left the exhibition feeling refreshed about my feelings on national and personal identity. We must all find ourselves – who we are and then redefine ourselves positvely to the world- If we fail to do this we roam around with societal expectations shackled to our feet, limiting us from being who we were born to be. Going to write a post on my thoughts on Identity soon.
😉 Course I had to take a picture in all that delightful white! I have developed an obsession with all things white now… Can’t wait to decorate our home once I get to Oslo … Excited :*
Featured Image Credit: Re.Le