BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
PERFORMANCE art is yet to be a popular staple on the visual art scene in this part of the world. However, Jelili Atiku, sculptor and performance artist, is a notable voice that wants to see this happen.
In 2005, he started with the installation, E Wawo, The Awaiting Trial Persons — a campaign against prison congestion — held at the Lagos State House of Assembly and in the premises of the Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos, Akoka. Between that period and now, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) –– trained artist has extended his performance art to the grassroots, engaging the common man on the streets in dialogue.
His current project Agbo Rago (Ram Ranch) addresses injustice and inequality, depicting the class system, a la master-slave mentality. “It’s important to take art to the streets, the way the people will understand it. Agbo Rago in that context is making the impact,” he argues.
Apparently, the popularity of Atiku’s performance is not in doubt: the organisers of the last Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF 2009) recognised this, when Agbo Rago was selected to be part of the art show alongside Closures and Enclosures, which featured three other artists, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo, Washington Uba and John Oladesu.
Earlier performed at the ram market of a Lagos outskirt, Ejigbo, the LABAF performance attracted much attention from the people in the community.
Given its interactive characteristics, Agbo Rago underscores the importance of art at the grassroots as a medium of communication. And if people are not watching here; elsewhere, Atiku is being rewarded.
ANOTHER work of his, this time a video art medium titled Victim of Political Assassination is currently being screened at The Rencontres Internationales Festival, Paris. “My entry for the festival has been selected and programmed for the event’s video library. It is dedicated to documentaries, which will be proposed during the whole duration of the festival.” Scheduled to end tomorrow, Atiku’s work among others, according to the organisers, was available for consultation from November 30 through December 6 at the Paris-Villette. He explains, “it will allow press and professionals to discover a rare documentary selection.”
This development, he enthuses “is a landmark achievement to me and my art.”
His earlier work on the video art scene Red and Me was part of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) and the Lagos video art workshop Imaginary Line in October last year.
Through the CCA, Atiku has been participating in other international video art events taking place at the Sabo, Yaba-based centre, Lagos.
ATIKU made his debut on the exhibition scene at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos in 2001 with Black Heritage followed by Omoran Lagba, (The wise one is the leader) a year after at the Aina Onabolu Building, National Theatre Annex, Iganmu.
Still on the regular art forms, he had a two-man show, Shadows in the Dark, an exhibition of drawings, paintings and sculptures with another artist, Arthur Judah Angel, in 2004, at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. The event was in line with his art activism mission; to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nation General Assembly, Resolution 217 A (III), in December 1948.