Sunday, 1 September 2013

Out of the Box…Young artists in race for Enugu glory


By Tajudeen Sowole
Although few works on display during the opening of the Lagos Zone of a national art competition Life in My City Art Festival {LIMCAF}, held at National Museum, Onikan Lagos, exudes conceptual quality, the zone may have an impressive showing when the grand finale comes up in Enugu. 

With the theme Out of the Box/Out of the Frame, 26 artists of the Lagos Zone were given opportunity to showcase their works in the exhibition organised by Alliance France, Lagos. 

In its seventh edition, LIMCAF’s 2013 edition holds the grand finale on Saturday October 12, 2013, in Enugu after the zonal contests, takes place “simultaneously” across the country. The other centres include Ibadan, Kaduna, Abuja, Jos, Calabar Owerri, Port Harcourt, Auchi, Uyo and Enugu. 

Ibrahim Afegbua’s sculpture of  what looks like a full nine month old baby in the womb titled Misconception depicts a pregnancy that refused to be aborted and grew into ready-to-be-delivered baby. In fibre glass and encircled with metal ‘womb’, the baby is bombarded with many drugs as well as injections passed graphically, over the months, explained in syringe piercing through the womb.
 
Ibrahim Afegbua’s sculpture, Misconception during the Lagos Zonal exhibition of a national art competition Life in My City
Mounted in the centre of the National Museum’s gallery, Afegbua’s Misconception, indeed, stands out among the works on display: it’s a typical package in conceptuality, aesthetics and thought-provoking thematic contents.      

With the head of the baby larger than usual, and perhaps other defective parts of the body hidden, it’s clear that it could end up a miscarriage in the labour room. 

And for the exhibition that was dominated by paintings and mixed media, in the traditional forms, the sculptures, as few as they were seemed to have a better outing in contents and themes. For example, another work, titled Alabaru {Carrier} by Adedeji Julius Adedewunmi looks kike a piece with great chances of winning a prize at the grand finale.

Generally, the participating artists’ works are representatives of the creative energy waiting to join the fledging Nigerian visual arts market, home and the Diaspora. 

Prizes for the finalists  include overall best, N500, 000; best in sculpture, painting, graphics/textiles, photography, printing/mixed media/drawing, each wins N250, 000; Justice Anthony Aniagolu prize for Originality, N100, 000,; the Art is Everywhere (recycled material) prize, N50, 000; and overall best entry from Enugu Zone prize, N50,000. 

Also, consolation prizes will be given 19 runners up all win a consolation prize of N20, 000 each.
At the last edition, Eze Mariagoretti Chinenye’s mixed media Rejuvenation, from Enugu Zone picked the first prize; photography piece, Adewumi Oluwatobi’s My Dream from Lagos Zone won Best Photography; Beauty Pageant, from also from Lagos Zone and by Installation Odo Sunday Ernest won Best Installation, Sculpture; and from Enugu Zone, The Heart Shall Smile Again by Uzornwannne Igbenabor picked The Best Digital Graphics.
 
Making its debut in Lagos after six editions, LIMCAF did not exactly enjoy impressive volume of visitors during the opening on this Friday evening. The late information and publicity for the exhibition appeared to have affected the turnout of visitors, so it seemed. Aside the few participating artists present and members of the organizing committee, the attendance was dismally low for a completion in its seventh edition.

In a foreword of the exhibition’s catalogue, the director of Alliance Francaise, Lagos, Christine Deuve  notes that the participant artists have displayed a “broad variety of artworks, which are sometimes amusing and expressive in a certain way of life”.

The Kevin Ejiofor-led organizers boasts that LIMCAF has been growing beyond imagination. It’s designed for persons under 35 years, draws participation from young professionals and students of tertiary institutions pan-Nigeria and Africa. “Entries have grown steadily from 180 in 2007 to 800 in   2012 Growing national and international youth and art tourist event & destination; at its core is the Art Competition and exhibition featuring at the Grand Finale, the works of the top 100 young Nigerian artists  and 30 top works of Africa’s young photographers; it provides space through art for interaction for young people from all over the country and beyond to make meaningful statements about the environment”.

The Executive Director, of LIMCAF, Ejiofor goes into memory lane of the project.  “It began as something of an experiment when in 2006, Robert Oji, founder and Chief Executive of the very prominent outdoor advertising agency, Rocana Nigeria Limited decided to find sustainable ways to challenge and encourage the very many young people who were studying art in the many tertiary institutions in and around Enugu where very few exhibitions were being held and outlets were limited except for the occasional opportunity at the Alliance Francaise centre”.

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