Benin City will be the location of the first exhibition of the project Whose Centenary? on the 6th and 7th of December 2014, featuring nine accomplished artists from Nigeria, a renowned Nigerian poet and an international curator, Inês Valle.
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 exhibition will explore themes around the centennial commemoration of Nigeria’s amalgamation, as well as and the multilayered nature and prevalent results of colonialism in the country, revealed in the primordial space of Benin, where history was itself played out a hundred years ago with the exile of Oba Ovonramwen to Calabar in 1897 and eventual entrenchment of British rule. The year of 1914 also brings to mind the passing of the king who stood against British imperialism in defense of his Kingdom. In its rhetorical form, several questions emerge: Who and what is being commemorated? In what forms do these memorializations occur?
Whose Centenary? is a two year long series of artistic collaborations that also aims to redefine the boundaries of museological spaces in Africa, where places, people and their memories continuously enrich our understanding of life, art and history. Therefore Igun Street is apprehended as a living museum, becoming an ideal space for this first intervention. The multi-series exhibitions will include, performance art, installation art, poetry reading, community workshops, songs/choreography, painting, photography, video and collaboration between contemporary Nigerian artists with traditional Edo bronze casters and their wards, in a series of community based art projects in Benin City.
The ground breaking art intervention will begin on 6 December with public art exhibitions and life performances following a procession route from the King’s quarters at Akenzua Street, through Airport Road, Ring Road and will culminate at Igun Street – a world Heritage site and the home of traditional bronze casters in Benin City who for centuries have produced the bronze works the city and country is renowned for.
WHOSE CENTENARY? is a collaborative project curated by Inês Valle with Peju Layiwola (project initiator), Jude Anogwih, Jelili Atiku, Victor Ehikhamenor, Andrew Esiebo, Taiye Idahor, Elizabeth Olowu, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, George Osodi and Jumoke Verissimo