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I’m not a cultist, says Jelili Atiku


Jelili Atiku no doubt has done well for himself in the area of performance art.
For years the world has been his stage and he has utilised it to his own advantage. But some people perhaps, out of ignorance have alleged that Atiku’s a cultist, who perform rituals and hide under the pretence of performance art.
Reacting to this, the Atiku says: “I have never been confronted with such word, ''Cultist". I am an artist who works on decolonised body. Calling an artist, a cultist when doing art is a colonial attribute, which was passed to us during the colonial Era.”
Atiku revealed to Arts and Culture Place that he will be in The Lagos Studies Association seminar which will take place very soon at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, to reflect on the forgoing in a performance-lecture. “Performance is the popular indigenous artistic practice in my culture. It embraces all forms of arts,” he says.
One of his outstanding performances in France focused on stole Benin artefacts during the colonial era. “The performance in France was historical as it was to respond to the issue of restitution and so the audience felt the need for the agitation of the stolen artefacts from Africa, especially the Benin Sculptures.
Rawson's Boat (Too Much with Us Series #1) as political and anthropological intervention performance was done in second time. The first was in 2011 in Lagos at Freedom Park during Book and Arts Festival (LABAF) on Sunday November 20. The second performance was at Musée d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France on Friday May 18 2018.  Below is the context of the performance.
“Memories, Mnemonics and healing are the issues that often surface when recall the effects of capitalistic objectives and targets on African visual culture. Elginism is the right word that would surface in this regard. Elginism crept became bold and vivid into Nigerians' history on 12 January 1897 - when Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson, commanding the squadron at the Cape of Good Hope who was appointed by the British Admiralty to lead an expedition to capture the Benin King and destroy Benin City. The operation was widely named "Benin Punitive Expedition". On the 9 February 1897 the consequential effects of Rawson's ship been anchored in the shore of Benin kingdom began.  
“Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson and his team looted and destroyed, especially monuments, and palaces of many high-ranking chiefs, and Benin king's palace was set ablaze. In order to defray the costs of the Expedition the British Admiralty confiscated and auctioned off more than 3,000 Benin artefacts, which considered the war booty. This event is over a century, but the Memories, Mnemonics and healing that associated with is lingering and fresh.
“Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) put the historical event this way ‘In twenty-nine days a force of 1,200 men, coming from three places between 3000 and 4500 m. from the Benin river, was landed, organised, equipped and provided with transport. Five days later the city of Benin was taken, and in twelve days more the men were re-embarked, and the ships coaled and ready for any further service’.”
For those who do not really know what performance art is, it presses into the boundaries between life and art, often making the artist’s body a part of the work. 

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