Bunmi Agusto & Chukwudubem Ukaigwe: Everything Good Will Come
POLARTICS, Lagos, Online, Nigeria 05 Dec 2020 - 10 Jan 2021
Chukwudubem Ukaigwe, Doing it in Lagos, 2020. Courtesy the artist and POLARTICS.
POLARTICS presents Everything Good Will Come. A joint exhibition featuring works by Bunmi Agusto and Chukwudubem Ukaigwe.
This exhibition brings together two young Nigerian artists who partake in reimagining the role of the Nigerian youth. Together, the works comprise a story which depicts a reawakening and the reignition of hope. Following the brutal suppression of protests against police brutality in Nigeria, a pertinent question lingers, “what next?”. What next for demanding accountability? What next for political organising? What next for demanding a right to life?
In this state of unknowing and questioning, we thought it important to bring together two artists, both in the early stages of their careers, whose work provide a mirror to young Nigerians both at home and abroad who over the past few weeks have shared a sense of political and social solidarity which they are experiencing for the first time in their generation. These works provide a vessel through which new nodes of existence and social participation can be explored, expanding our view of ourselves and bringing us closer to answering the question of what next whilst reclaiming our rightful space within all forms of socio-political discourse.
Bunmi Agusto’s paintings follow a woman of the fictional Aruaro clan, which translates into blind from the Bini language of the artist’s maternal tribe, the Edo people. Within Agusto’s practice, this clan can be identified by the tribal marks on their cheeks in which the ancestral eyes are nestled. This second set of eyes are closed throughout childhood and only open when the Aruaro encounters their ancestors through a projection of oneself in their dreams, as depicted in this series, and wakes up with both sets of eyes open. During this rite of passage, the Aruaro and their ancestors engage in a dialogue that leaves both parties enlightened in both traditional and contemporary perspectives. This body of work ties closely to present day, in which young Nigerians who have been born into a system of silence finally reach a point of political awakening. At the very core of her practice, she questions what objects trigger her Nigerian cultural consciousness using Sherry Turkle’s theory of evocative objects as vessels anchoring personal histories and cultural identity.
Chukwudubem Ukaigwe’s paintings depict Nigeria’s youth in their multiplicity of identities. At the core of this is the acknowledgement that their existence cannot be discussed with a monolithic view as Nigeria happens to be a repository of variances in experience. Ukaigwe’s paintings reimagine a world where strength is garnered in diversity, everyone coming together despite antithesis of personal beliefs, to challenge paradigms of incompetent leadership, vicious classism and neocolonial oligarchy — much similar to what was experienced at the peak of the protests. He holds onto the silver lining of hope and a belief in creating a Nigerian utopia, a Nigeria where no one is judged or condemned to a barbaric default, because of their gender, class, occupation, upbringing or sexuality. The purpose of these paintings is to create a cognitive space for an epistemological literature of gathering. A space for a dialectical assembly of young Nigerians who collectively possess a strong affinity for liberation.