Art Twenty One, Artists Reflect on Media Industry

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By Justina Uzo

Art Twenty One is offering another important chance to see works of artists in Nigeria and beyond. Popular names in today’s art world such as Olu Amodu , Nnenna Okere and the magnum photographers, Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin, perhaps the best-known photojournalists of our times , have been attracted to the wave-making Art Twenty One.  Amodu who is the first artist to display at the gallery, no doubt, has a gratifying strong showing.
The 600 sqm space located at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island is offering them a platform to showcase their artworks. Not a few said the art gallery has been contributing to and solidifying the growing art scene in Lagos as well as positioning the city as a major force in the international art world.
The latest exhibition, Breezy News, is being presented to art lovers and patrons. It is one that explores the politics and mechanisms of the mass media.
Captioned Breaking News, the group exhibition brought together artists working in painting, drawing, photography, video and installation. Their works question how information is disseminated, how fact is constructed, and how social and political life are filtered through the lens of the culture industry.
At present, the works of artists including Jacob S. Boeskov, Teco Benson  and Obinna Makata as well as Native Maqari, Abraham Oghobase, Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Chuike Uzoma, Uche Uzorka are showcased in the exquisite gallery for gallery-goers to stay at and get unforgettable  inspiration. Joseph Gergel is the curator.
There is a poser following the ever-present bombardment of headlines and images. In a world of twenty-hour news cycles and virtual communications, how does the media shape our society and define who we are?
Interestingly, these artists question not only the content of the news but its very framework. Whether critiquing current events or its distribution in newspaper, television and on the Internet, they form a self-reflexive view of the media, identifying how it forms our personal and collective worldwide. “Are melting into the static of our technological screens, or is there still room for individuality in our new media world.?
Taking a closer look, these artists are critical about divergent social and political issues in the country, from violence, governance, corruption to Nollywood as well as popular consumer trends. They look at how Nigeria is defined in the local and global news media, and how cultural myths are articulated and perpetuated.
In an art form, these artistes cut, crop and shred the vernacular news archive, a literal and symbolic act of destruction. Rather than succumb to the commercial pressures of the media industry , they create a visual language to portray new perspectives and alternative narratives.
As expected the exhibition attracted a lot of people including artists, collectors and the media.  during the opening ceremony last Saturday, including families who were there with their children to be closer to art.
Sodiq Benson, a banker said: “It was well prepared, well organized. All the artists are here, including the Iceland-based Nigerian artist. It’s fun to be here. You are imagining things. You loosen up after hours spent on horrible traffic on weekdays.”
A man who introduced himself simply as Ricky came with his girlfriend to spend the weekend at Eko Hotel.“I love to see artworks and this gallery helps me to see contemporary art. Its rare to see lots of  artworks  under one roof. So, I make sure I visit this place with my girlfriend on weekends to gaze upon. I have a passion for art and I come here (Art Twenty One); they are doing good both for artists and art lover,” he said. Patrons who missed the opening ceremony of Breaking News can still visit the gallery, the work will still be on display till the last week of this month. The feeling is better experienced than described.