Benin City | Nigeria
Participants: Andrew Esiebo, George Osodi, Jelili Atiku, Elizabeth Olowu, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Taiye Idahor, Victor Ehikhamenor, Jumoke Verisimmo, Peju Layiwola, Ines Valle and Jude Anogwih. Oreoluwa Sokan, Okwumah Alexander, Stanley Okeke, Uche Mbanu, Ihuoma Daniel Onyeagbula, Minna Davies, Ayobami Aribisala, Samuel Animashaun, Atule Achimugu, Onyeka Greg Odiakose, Sheriff Ojetunde, Mary Eshiete, Abduwahill Balogun, Bayo Olowu, Runsewe Adedamola, Alao Lukman, Juliet Ezenwa-Pearse, Yemi Ashimi, Theodora Ikpa, Burns Effiom, Taiwo Alabi, Henry Aigbe, Temilola Marindoti, Angela Olisama, Josephine Ebiuwa Abbe, Igun Bronze Casters and Traditional Edo dancers and singers.
a collaborative project
Benin City was the location of the first exhibition of the project Whose Centenary? curated by Inês Valle and happened between 6th and 7th of December 2014, featuring nine artists from Nigeria, a renowned Nigerian poet and severeal participants.
The art project Whose Centenary? is a critical analysis of significant historical aspects of Nigerian social, political and cultural memory, with a particular emphasis on 1914. The project explores themes around the centennial commemoration of the amalgamation of the northern and southern regions of Nigeria and the multilayered nature and prevalent results of colonialism in Nigeria in the primordial space of Benin. Benin became a place where history played out over a hundred years ago with the exile of Oba Ovonramwen to Calabar in 1897 and the eventual entrenchment of British rule. 1914 brings to mind the passing of the king who stood against British imperialism in defence of his kingdom. In its rhetorical form, several questions emerge: Who and what are being commemorated? In what forms do these memorializations occur?
The multi-series exhibition in Benin included performance, poetry reading, songs/choreography, installation art, painting, photography, video art and a collaboration between the academically-trained artists with traditional Edo bronze casters and their wards in a series of community-based projects in Benin City. This ground-breaking art intervention which began with a procession on the 6th of December at 11am, from the King's quarters at Akenzua Street through Airport Road, Ring Road, and the Oba's palace culminated at Igun Street- a world Heritage site and the home of traditional bronze casters in Benin City who for centuries produced the bronze works the city and country are renowned for, where several art exhibitions and performances took place.
Whose Centenary? also aims to contribute to the redefinition of boundaries of museological spaces in Africa, where places, people and their memories continuously enrich our understanding of life, art and history. Igun Street was conceive as a living museum becoming an ideal space for this collaborative project.
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