The Progress Of Love: Valerie Oka

20 October – 10 November 2012

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to announce the first presentation of The Progress of Love, a performative exhibition by Ivorian artist Valerie Oka.  The exhibition is part of an unprecedented transatlantic collaborative project between art institutions in three cities and two continents: CCA, Lagos, The Menil Collection, Houston and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis. This multifaceted exhibition will explore the changing modes and meanings of love in today’s global society.
Valerie Oka’s sculptures, drawings, installations and performances articulate a personal perspective of complex encounters and relationships.  Oka uses her work as a form of communication to engage and even exorcise the physical and psychological traumas caused by rejection, pain, and violence but also to depict the love, passion and joy of human interactions. Positioning herself as  a storyteller, her narratives manifest an emotional fragility discernible in the titles of her paper drawings Love me or hit me, (2011), JTM (je t’aime 2011), Men Power (2011) a sculptural installation of over 20 penises in different sizes or  I promise to love you, (2011) an installation depicting an empty room in which the activities of the occupants remains open to suggestion.  In the performance, In her presence, guests are invited for dinner at the end of which they are asked to engage in a creative act with the remnants from the dinner. In so doing the artists wants them to share a part of their intimacy, making what is personal available to the collective.

Valerie Oka lives and works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She studied at the Ecole Superieure d’Arts Graphique and graduated in 1990. She has taken part in several exhibitions across Africa as well as internationally. 

Photographs by Jude Anogwih.

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