RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW / 2017
I was selected along with two other amazing artistes (Victor Ehikhamenor & Peju Alatise) to perform in the Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In response to the curatorial theme How About Now? of the Nigerian pavilion, within the larger Viva Arte Viva theme of the 2017 Venice biennial, I have dug into my own artistic preoccupations, which has now spanned an intense period of 20 years of working internationally. Looking back, I realise that my artistic preoccupations are caught within the cycle of time, which remains the central theme of my work.
Artistic Statement: Dance, as a passionate and ephemeral art form, has a great capacity to make visible, the multiple juxtapositions that makes the present tangible. However, the present, the here and now, which constantly accelerates with the speed of light, equally moves with the constancy of ticking time. This constant change however, threatens our grip upon certitudes and truths, and thus presents us with a tremendous sense of fear. But the body of the master dancer, through openness and acceptance of that nowness, provides a possible window, through which the speed of light can be reduced and time can be distilled within the body, to make visible the myriads of powerful imageries embedded in the present, even if for a split second.myriads of powerful imageries embedded in the present, even if for a split second.
In my approach to art, one notion is clear. This notion, however, might be connected to other notions that simultaneously come to rest within my restless mind; my body has created a precept and a refuge for these complexities: my personal need for comprehension, for finding answers to the many questions that surfaces in my mind, together with my own preoccupation with a dire need to advance art and humanity, to heal, and to be a bridge between aesthetics that has either been wrongly understood or dismissed as low art. And in all of that I also have to find a space for political engagement, without being overtly political; for spirituality, in search of unity with the cosmos; for the hope to recover a certain verticality, to recover the authentic self that is neither subjugated to norms, to history, to the past, nor held back from his right to the assured presence.
To do this, I have had to tap into age-long Yoruba philosophies, which carefully outlined the significance of the self, of alterity, of the commune, and of the divine, in its imagination of the role of aesthetics, beauty, and art. In addition to a live performance, Right Here, Right Now is presented as a collection of past works, reconsidered- through a fresher narrative, and exhibited as a triptych—of engagement, of contemplation, and of poetry. This hopefully, will provide a window through which time could be altered for a brief moment.