The Progress of Love Weekend

13 October 2012–27 January 2013

Wura-Natasha Ogunji, A Tortoise Walks Majestically on Window Ledges, 2012. Performance. Courtesy CCA, Lagos.

On October 13th CCA, Lagos kicked off the programme The Progress of Love, a transatlantic collaboration with the Menil Collection, Houston and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis. Focusing on a series of events that prioritise the performative, the programme includes interactive installations, live art, screenings, artists’ talks, panel discussions and literary presentations exploring love from a diversity of perspectives.

The Progress of Love began in October with artist Valerie Oka’s exhibition highlighting the complexities of human emotions and relationships through her drawings, paintings and installations. The opening culminated with a performance dinner in which participants collectively shared personal experiences. It was followed in November by Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s presentation A Tortoise walks majestically on window ledges. This poetic performance work is inspired by the discovery of—in 2010, on her first visit to Nigeria—and the stories contained within a journal written over a 15-year period by a father she never met.

The Progress of Love continues to unfold in Lagos in December, coinciding with the fifth-anniversary celebration of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. With this milestone it seems appropriate that we are focusing on the intersections of contemporary art and love, that universal emotion shared by humankind irrespective of colour, creed or geography. The Progress of Love provides an opportunity to interrogate a seemingly trivial concept from a profound and diverse perspective. The project has allowed us to extend our curatorial parameters with a programme of newly commissioned work in addition to consolidating our focus on performative art practices, which are gaining unprecedented attention throughout the continent.

A fully illustrated publication with essays by the curators and contributing writers complements The Progress of Love in all three venues.

The Progress of Love at CCA, Lagos is curated by Bisi Silva with curatorial assistance by Taiye Idahor.

Photographs by Jude Anogwih.

Programme: 7th December 2012–27th January 2013

Screenings, 7th December 

In Difficult Love (2010), Zaneli Muholi’s documentary with filmmaker Peter Goldsmid, the camera is turned on the lives of a homeless couple, a transgender traditional healer, and a lesbian single mom as well as on the artist in a candid portrayal of their lives and everyday realities. Andrew Esiebo’s multimedia work Living Queer African (2007), documents the daily life of a young Cameroonian who by relocating to France to start a new life finds he still has to struggle with his identities of being African and gay. Adaora Nwandu’s trilogy of short films, Say My Name, is a contemporary love story in which conflicting feelings about masculinity, sexuality, race, self-definition and love are confronted.

Panel Discussion: Performance Art in West Africa, 7th December
This panel assesses the growing interest in Performance Art and its implications within the local art scene.  Speakers include artists Valerie Oka (Abidjan) Wura-Natasha Ogunji (Lagos) Bernard Akoi-Jackson (Accra) and Jelili Atiku (Lagos), and will be moderated by curator Bisi Silva (Lagos).

Temitayo Ogunbiyi: interactive installation, 8th December

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s contribution revolves around her latest discovery, the Love Text Message Booklet phenomenon, which began in Lagos in the early 2000s. By creating her own version of the booklets and encouraging the audience to send their own messages, Ogunbiyi explores love as relayed through text messaging, perhaps one of the most popular forms of contemporary communication, especially in Lagos.  Exhibition opening includes talk by artists Andrew Esiebo and Temi Tayo Ogunbiyi.

Literary presentation, 9th December
In collaboration with P.A.G.E.S., a confluence of literature, art and photography created for CCA, Lagos brings to the visual art context fiction writers, poets, playwrights, as well as arts and literary lovers to provide a literary perspective to The Progress of Love.

P.A.G.E.S. was curated by Aderemi Adegbite, cultural producer and photographer.

Presenters include:
Playwright Lekan Balogun will read from Oya, an African epic love story in which Yoruba hero gods and goddess such as Ogun, Sango, and Oya are imbued with human frailties, as they play out different emotionally engaging sagas of love; Iquo Diana-Abasi Eke, a writer, actress and performance poet, will read from her forthcoming collection of poetry, Testimony of Becoming; Ralph Tathagata, a poet, presents Endless Roads, his first collection of poems, a portrayal of his beloved Nigeria; Toni Kan, an award-winning poet, essayist, and short story writer reads from his critically acclaimed Nights of the Creaking Bed, a kaleidoscope of colourful characters involved in affecting dramas.
Ntone Edjabe, Founder and Publisher of Chimurenga, will give a presentation on his award-winning journal and newspaper Chimurenga Chronic, discussing some of the themes they have engaged over the past decade.

Soft music will be played by guitarist Awoko.

Jelili Atiku: performance, 26th January 2013
The two-part performance titled Araferaku, which loosely translated from the Yoruba means A Part of Me is Missing, enacts the love between a son and a father who died before he was born.  Tormented by this void and simultaneously nourished by its constant presence, Araferaku can be seen as a eulogy to an absence that remains present.

The presentation by Wura-Natasha Ogunji in Lagos is supported by a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Progress of Love is being underwritten at CCA, Lagos by the Menil Collection and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

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