Arts & Entertainments

Dike’s solo exhibition interrogates effects of COVID-19 climate change

A solo exhibition of installation, new works and media by Lagosbased sculptor and mixed-media artist, and one of the leading female voices in Nigerian art scene, Ndidi Dike opened last Saturday at Alliance Francaise/Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Titled Commodities of Consumption and Sites of Extraction in the Global South, the exhibition, which will run till Sunday, 24, interrogates issues such as the catastrophic effects of the health crisis COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, socio economic emergencies.

Notes Dike, “The ongoing catastrophic effects of the health crisis COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, socio economic emergencies has exposed fault lines of our various marginalised and disenfranchised societies. Among other exigencies can be linked to the Anthropocene and historic acts of abuse carried out centuries ago “Commodities of Consumption and Sites of Extraction in the Global South” is the title of a multifaceted and ongoing artistic research project.”

According to her, for quite a while, she has been intensely engaging historical archives, and working across a range of artistic media including lens-based technologies, collage, installation, painting and sculpture.

“The foregoing modes of practice have guided investigations—across time and with a global reach—that dive into pre- and post-colonial histories of slavery, forced migration, displacement, decolonization, identity, gender inequality, and patriarchy. I’ve also been concerned with the political dimensions of commodities—their consumption, circulation, manufacture, as well as geo-political policies that underwrite the control and extractive industries that govern natural resources and appropriation in Africa. I’ve focused my attention on not only the Congo, but also countries such as Madagascar.

Part of my interest in these histories, despite the perception held by many that they’ve been exhausted, is the truth that the effects of the past survive in the present. Or, as Maya Angelou puts it, ‘History despite its wretched pain cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again.’ This installation takes up consumer products connected with the transatlantic slave trade (along with current day global commodity markets), and highlights their materiality as potent metaphors.

“For instance, I use the three-tier cake stand and paper doilies that are commonplace in British high tea ceremonies as recurring modes of display in the work. The cake stand metonymically symbolizes colonial powers in the transatlantic space, and their stacking of resources used to prop up and feed European industrial economies.

In my work I connect these devices and metaphors with the materiality of the products from some of the seaports and ‘sites of extraction’ along the West African coast, commonly referred to as the Gulf of Guinea and. Four key products are addressed in the work, each engaged through bespoke cake stands dedicated to particular products: Gold, Cotton, Indigo, and Vanilla. The stands are situated within a tableau of hanging photographic transparencies, each similarly dedicated to one of the four products/ natural resources.

These hanging transparencies feature layered photographs, collage, reworked imagery and symbols, derived from both my personal archive of images assembled through research and site visits, as well as imagery publicly available online.”

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