2019: A Year of Art Transformers

Yinka Olatunbosun writes that some revolutionary trends will stir the Nigerian art scene in this New Year

2018 produced some effervescence in Nigerian art scene, no doubt. It was evident in the changing dynamics for visual art. Digital art offerings such as interactive media art in form of art installations and virtual reality content divided the art audience along the lines of conservatives and avant-gardists. Even age-long collectors arch their brows- pondering over the durability and relevance of this period art forms.

As the Founder of African Artists’ Foundation and the LagosPhoto festival, Azu Nwagbogu once remarked during a talk session in Lagos last December, there should be a synergy between the private and the public sectors in curating permanent collections for contemporary museums in Nigeria.

Nwagbogu who had recently earned the position of Chief Curator at Cape Town’s Seitz Museum of Contemporary African Art spoke from a place of sound curatorial judgment as he evaluated the curatorial approach in publicly funded museums against the backdrop of a growing number of private collectors, some of whom upon their demise, risk having their works put in custody of relatives who may lack art appreciation.

If the management of National Museums in Nigeria consider new branding strategies aided by technology; tourism, arts and culture in Nigeria will get a boost. At the moment, there is no social media account for the Nigerian Museum.

In music, the trends in global scene is a reflection of how popular music is dominating the cultural space in almost every country. The 2019 Grammy nominations were predominantly earned by hip-hop artists including the coveted categories such Record of the Year and Album of the year. In Nigeria, hip-hop is also a leading music genre with bankable artists such as Olamide, Reminisce, and Phyno dominating album sales and brand endorsements.

Of course, the emergence of Slimcase in the scene disrupted the game as many established artists took a bite of the artist’s forbidden fruit- that is, his spoken words short of rhyme and reason-in collaborations. To be sure, his “codeine diet” provoked some outrage because it was initially seen as a promotion of anti-social behaviour such as drug addiction. Slimcase’s songs made many DJs’ playlist in 2018 but may not be listed in 2019 as classic tunes.

If the Lagos state owned community theatres are launched in 2019 as projected, cultural life will never be the same in the city. Some Lagosians see cultural life as a critical need not as a pastime. Let’s consider how the theatre productions impact on the economy of each host community. A case in point is Tiamiyu Savage Street in Victoria Island where almost every security man is sure to make some cool cash whenever plays are performed at Terra Arena. It means business for taxi drivers, commercial tricyclists and theatre workers.

This year, Art X talk sessions will require a careful thoughtconsidering the crowd it has commanded from its inception in 2016. What happened last year is an indication that this international art fair is due for satellite venues. When Yinka Shonibare MBE came to Nigeria as the lead artist for the art talks last year, the extension room which was equipped with a projector and sound equipment failed to keep the audience in this auxiliary room on the same page with the ones inside the main hall, a couple of times. Possibly, more group exhibitions, fairs, workshops and artists’ talks will emerge this year to replicate this tradition but it will take an heroic intervention to achieve it.

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