Emeka Ogboh & Meschac Gaba at “Meet The Africa Center”

The Africa Center, New York, United States
20 Sep 2014

Emeka Ogboh & Meschac Gaba at “Meet The Africa Center”

Emeka Ogboh Lagos State of Mind II (detail), 2014 Sound, speakers, earphones, 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon 'Danfo' bus, images on plasma screen Courtesy the artist Photo: Steven John Irby aka stevesweatpants, © Emeka Ogboh

The Africa Center presents Lagos State of Mind II, a new sound installation by Emeka Ogboh, a Nigerian artist whose work contemplates broad notions of listening and hearing. The installation is the artistic centerpiece of “Meet The Africa Center,” a free one-day celebration of African culture at The Africa Center’s new home at 1280 Fifth Avenue on September 20, 2014, 10:00am–5:30pm.

In Lagos State of Mind II, Ogboh creates a microcosm of Lagos, Nigeria, by installing the sounds of the city in and around a bright yellow Volkswagen “Danfo” bus. The space around the Danfo is filled with an immersive soundscape evoking the Lagos urban environment. Visitors who climb on board the Danfo put on headphones to hear voices relaying snippets from life in Lagos.

Danfos are the main form of public transportation in Lagos. For Ogboh, they function as a “mobile village square” where people discuss important matters of the day. They are a symbolic embodiment of Lagos, just as yellow taxis symbolize NYC.

In honor of the Danfo’s arrival in NYC, Ogboh took it on a one-day photographic tour around the city, driving through historic African-American neighborhoods and past landmarks such as the Apollo Theatre and the Empire State Building. An integral part of the installation, the tour photographs take visitors on a journey from the streets of NYC to the streets of Lagos and back again. They discover similarities—the raw human energy, the pressing urban and global issues, and the personal narratives weaving in-between—and some differences too. Ogboh’s art gives visitors a taste of many of the key themes shaping future plans for The Africa Center.

Also On View
Making its New York debut following its premiere at Art Basel in 2013, Beninese artist Meschac Gaba‘s Citoyen du Monde hangs in the middle of The Africa Center’s grand atrium. Resembling a huge, dizzying beach ball, sixteen feet in diameter, it is striped with segments of the flags of every country of the world. This work is intended as both an object of fun and as an interrogation of the global balance of power. The Africa Center hopes that this work will encourage visitors to rethink their conceptions of Africa: its art, economy and cultures, and its global prominence.

In addition to Ogboh and Gaba’s art installations, visitors will experience performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem; bands and DJs staged by Okayafrica; a West African Photo Booth; African-influenced tastings by Alexander Smalls and The Cecil; and screenings of ONE’s inspirational film The Power of Protest Music. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about and sample African cuisine, partake in educational craft workshops, listen to African storytellers, and much more.


Meet The Africa Center
Saturday, September 20
From 10:00am – 5:30pm,
1280 Fifth Avenue, New York


Emeka Ogboh is a Nigerian artist whose work contemplates broad notions of listening and hearing. He works primarily with sound and video to explore ways of understanding cities as cosmopolitan, unique spaces. His sound recordings in Lagos have produced a corpus of work entitled Lagos Soundscapes, which he has installed in various foreign locales. Ogboh has exhibited widely internationally. He currently lives in Berlin, where he is a DAAD 2014 grant recipient. 

Meschac Gaba was born in 1961 in Cotonou, Benin, and currently lives in Rotterdam and Cotonou. His major work, the Museum of Contemporary African Art (1997-2002), was acquired by Tate and exhibited at Tate Modern, London, in 2013.