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You are welcome to my haven! I created this in the memory of my memories...I can only hope you will always hang on here as long as you can. But if you have to leave, I want you to please:

Listen to your heart
When it's calling for you
Coz I don't know where you are going
And I don't know why?
But listen to your heart
Before you turn and say...good-bye...

So that our sweetest memories can linger on as long as we live...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Memories live on: As Atiku invades Europe & America


Jelili Atiku Presenting his talks at The Tate Modern Tanks in LONDON 21ST JULY 2012

In a recent international exchange programme at Antroposophical Arttherapy School (White House), Culture Centrum, Järna, Sweden, participants were drawn from Sweden, Norway, Nigeria and Ugandan and comprised of visual artists, human rights activists, educationists, ecologists, environmentalists and green living advocates, and entrepreneurs to examine certain socio-cultural issues as they affect democracy and human rights around the globe. Nigeria’s Atiku Jelili was one of the participants, with theme ‘Democracy and Human Rights:  Cultural Actors’ Expert Exchanges’. The programme is the Swedish Institute’s funded expert exchange. It is an opinion-making and policy-oriented nature to promote openness and democratic, economic and social progress in developing countries through the transfer of knowledge and experience to senior officials and experts working with democracy, human rights, gender equality and the role of women in development.

I PRESENTED a talk, which I titled “God’s Expedition: The Mirror in Me” – where I examined my experience as political artist with concerns for human rights and justice based in Nigeria. Quoting Gilbert’s (1998) statement, “everything in life comes down to politics. All worthy emotions – love, honor, patriotism, charity – have at their root a concern with politics, which means simply possessing the power to achieve one’s desired goal. This is not the place to debate whether that theory holds true or not, but it is certainly clear that a greater portion of the world’s art has had political implications”.

I examined and discussed the potentialities of artistic and cultural engagement in influencing participatory democracy and promotion of human rights. I made reference to my artistic works, especially “Ewawo: The Awaiting Trial Persons” – An installation sculpture, which was exhibited in 2005 at Lagos State House of Assembly as a protest against “Holding Charge”, In The Red (ongoing performance project) that began in 2008 and uses red as a symbol of life, suffering, danger and violence; Agbo Rago – a performance at Ejigbo Ram Market, Lagos, 11th Lagos Book and Art Festival, 2nd African Summit and Exhibition on Visual Art (ARESUVA), Abuja, Nigeria; Who’s Afraid of FoI Bill?, United Nations Information Centre, Ikoyi,  Lagos State, Nigeria, etc.

In the presentation, I recommended that: (i) visual artists should direct or redirect visual forms to investigate, question and combat all those “things” that endanger the existence of humanity; (ii) the protection and promotion of human rights should be a legitimate concern of every man and woman of the world; and (iii) the stakeholders in justice administrative system should inculcate the use of art works and activities to advocate for the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights; and enlighten the public on these rights.
On July 3, I enact a performance titled, “In (ut) Flöde” as winding-off event of the exchange programme. The performance, which was done in collaboration with Helene Aurell (Swedish artist), Nigel Wells (UK/Swedish artist) and Pål Gunnäs (Norwegian artist), took place at Trädgårdsparken, Kulturcentrum, Jarna, Sweden. Images of the performance attached.

Through the performance, I tried to project the fact that our world is put under pressure due to biodiversity loss. There is worldwide melting of glaciers, which is threating to eliminate the water supply for numerous towns in valleys. Hence, water could very soon become a very scarce resource for many regions of the world. Worst still, our interactions between nature is growing into deterioration as we search for material goods and find happiness stringently in money. I became a living biodynamic body in the performance.

Talk and Performance at The Tanks: Ethics of the Encounter, Tate Modern, London on the July 21 2012 – In this event, I will be performing a live art, where I will invite audience members to participate in the performance, In the Red series. After laying out 24 pieces of red cloth I will create a placard inviting people to stand on the cloth, by way of entering the performance. I will weave my way through the group and once at the last person in the group he will begin to wash their feet. This will continue until each person has had their feet washed. Each person in the performance from the audience will write on the red paper (card), which they stood on.  This will be done immediately I wash each person’s feet. They will simply write words going on in their minds in the course of the performance. It could be anything..!

My talk in this event is titled Gbangbayahu: An Intervention with Human Dignities. I will be presenting documentation of my past performance works, and also demonstrate my approach in engaging activist art in Nigeria. Touching on ideas of ‘Social Sculpture’ (Beuysian), I will discuss how my direct political action and performance works attempt a remoulding our society. Working predominantly through intervention into public spaces, I will strive to show how the influence of Egungun (commonly mislabeled as Masquerade) has had on my live public actions.

Talk at Southbank Centre’s African Utopia: Art and Social Change/Protest, QEH Front Room, Southbank Centre, London on July 22 - I will be joining the penal, which consists of Baaba Maal, Rita Ray – TBC, Elsie Owusu, Disa Allsop – TBC, Jumoké Fashola (the award-winning Broadcaster and Jazz Vocalist CHAIR) and myself in an informal but semi-structured format (rather than a formal lecture). I shall present my experience in using art for Social Change/Protest.

“Africa Utopia is a month-long festival of music, theatre, film, literature, dance, fashion, talks and debates programmed by Southbank Centre in conjunction with renowned Senegalese singer and human-rights campaigner Baaba Maal, as part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World with MasterCard. Throughout the festival there are performances by iconic musicians who share Baaba Maal’s belief in the power of music for social change.  You can also hear from writers who provide insight into the reality of contemporary African culture. Meanwhile an invited group of young delegates – guided by ‘elders’ including Baaba Maal and Lemn Sissay – explore how art projects can be mobilized to bring about social change”.

International Artistic Collaboration with Dr. Graham Martin Yorkshire artist in Northern England (Cumbria, Carlisle, Scarborough and York) from 22nd July - 8th August 2012 – The theme of their collaboration is Art and Humanity, and incorporates actions, residencies, live artistic research, talks, workshops and participation. The details events here include Cumbria: 22 -28 July 2012 - Private research residency at Kurt Schwitters Merzbarn. Carlisle:  29th July - Art & Being Workshop at Freerange Artists. Scarborough: 2-5th August - Private residency at The House project, Knipe Point, Scarborough; and Art & Being Workshop at Woodend Creative Industries Centre, The Crescent, Scarborough. York: 7th August - Public actions in Parliament St, York and evening artists talk - Space 109 Walmgate, York.

It is pertinent to mention that for over a year Dr. Martin and myself have been engaged in dialogue concerning the possibility of working together. Tate Modern’s invitation to present my work at The Tanks: Ethics of the Encounter, London this summer has made this collaboration possible. Dr. Graham thus organised and coordinated the events in this collaboration. The collaboration was also supported by Arts Council England.

Dr. Graham Martin is an artist based in Yorkshire - his art covers text, photography, actions, and mixed media objects and often addresses social and human concerns albeit in a playful way. He has received numerous Arts Council grants and has shown across UK and in Germany, Russia, Italy and Mongolia. He was a special guest at the 4th Free International Forum in Bolognano Italy in 2010. His 2011 solo show at Gallery 11 Bradford, The Revolution is Healing, was inspired by Joseph Beuys notion of ‘a collective negation of common humanity’, and explored common wounds, healing and the contemporary accumulation of loss. Dr. Martin is also director and curator of AGENCY – Art, life and society, an international curatorial project based in Yorkshire concerned with the socio political and the how and why of living. For more information on Dr. Martins, contact: www.agencyartlifesociety.com.

I am using this opportunity to thank members of Nigerian Press, especially those in the art desk for giving adequate and comprehensive reports on my artistic practices.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Edumare a tin yin leyin o, ase!

This Article was written by Jelili Atiku which featured in THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER of Saturday, 28th July, 2012.