Women on Aeroplanes #2: Search and Research – Looking for Colette Omogbai

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria
23 May 2018 - 26 May 2018

Colette Omogbai, Agony (detail), 1963. Oil on Hardboard, Iwalewahaus | DEVA, Universität Bayreuth*.

Colette Omogbai, Agony (detail), 1963. Oil on Hardboard, Iwalewahaus | DEVA, Universität Bayreuth*.

“The aeroplanes they travel with are real. But sometimes they stand still or land themselves.” Kojo Laing

The point of departure for the research project Women on Aeroplanes comes from the title of Ghanaian writer Bernard Kojo Laing’s critically acclaimed second novel Women of the Aeroplanes, written in 1988. With his ironic deconstructive syntax and his implosion of genres, he sets the tone for a historic narrative enfolding in the present tense, in which subordinate subject-object relations are deleted. His method of a speculative fiction writing can be seen as a making of theory with other means. Consequently using Laing as one of the reference points might help to design a new grammar that contributes to making  possible re-visiting and re-writing of history.

After the first iteration of “Filter – Editing Room” in December 2017 at IFA, Berlin the second edition of Women on Aeroplanes takes place at CCA Lagos. Search and Research: Looking for Colette Omogbai will comprise of a series of lectures dedicated to unfolding and mobilising different ways of theoretical and artistic, academic and non-academic strategies of investigation and thus to centre the presence of women out of their non-representation in the history writing process.  The art and life of pioneering Modern Nigerian woman artists such as Clara Etso Ugbodaga-Ngu, Afi Ekong, Colette Omogbai, Theresa Luck-Akinwale and Ladi Kwali, remain unknown or incomplete, and unpublished  though their work is crucial for the understanding of modernist art in Nigeria. Not only are they absent in the wider narrative around their contemporaries such as Ben Enwonwu, Uche Okeke, J.D.‘Okhai Ojeikere, Demas Nwoko and Bruce Onobrakpeya, this invisibility is being repeated in the lineage and reference to today’s art practice and histories. Consequently how do we address the void? What new art historical methodologies can be developed in a context where the history is determined by an absence? In finding them what could changes can take place in determining the narrative?  Artists and art historians, archival researchers and writers, philosophers and curators, will speak about the processes of research in their specific locale and the transnational outreach of their ‘detective’ work.

Participants include: Garnette Cadogan, Rahima Gambo, Lungiswa Gqunta, Gladys Kalichini, Maryam Kazeem, Jihan El-Tahri, Fabiana Lopes, Seloua Luste Boulbina, Nontobeko Ntombela, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, and Nadine Siegert

This iteration is co-ordinated by Bisi Silva, Director CCA, Lagos and Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, Associate Curator, CCA, Lagos


Women on Aeroplanes is a research-based project curated by Annett Busch, Marie-Hélène Gutberlet & Magda Lipska coproduced by Iwalewahaus, Universität Bayreuth, funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation in collaboration with Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos / Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw / The Showroom, London.


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