Not much is known about Fatimah Tuggar in these climes. Yet, this Kaduna-born artist, who was educated in Lagos, the UK and the US, is making waves in the international art circles for her use of technology as a medium and subject in her works.
So, what does she have to do with Nigeria’s technological advancement, ethnicity and colonial legacies? For almost an hour, Tuggar had engaged a select audience as the first guest of the TV talk show, The Space, which was initiated by Daria Media and supported by Sterling Bank. Her works have been widely exhibited in prestigious venues and events in over 25 countries, which include the Museum of Modern Art in New York (US); Museum Kunst-Palast in Dusseldorf (Germany); Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (France); the 24th Biennial of Graphic Art in Ljubljana (Slovenia) as well as in Moscow, Istanbul, Kwangju and Bamako Biennials. Through these works, she comments on such sensitive themes as ethnicity, technology and post-colonial culture.
In his address to the audience consisting of select artists, collectors and culture buffs during the recording of the debut edition of The Space, the Sterling Bank’s CEO Abubakar Suleiman said the bank is committed to promoting original ideas, especially in relation to works of art.
The first edition of The Space, he explained, featured Tuggar because a lot of ideas that can transform the society will come from the creative industry. “It is the story that we tell about where we are coming from and how those stories inspire us that would help us to find a common ground so that our society can move forward,” he argued. “The words which writers use or the actual materials that visual artists use don’t convey much on their own. Even the money that bankers use conveys little. What gives meaning to everything is how they are presented, what we put into them or what they do for the society. Every format and platform provide the artist or creative mind with an opportunity to communicate.”
Also speaking, the Daria Media’s CEO, Kadaria Ahmed, reiterated the need for serious, intellectually-stimulating and engaging conversations about the arts, leadership, business and community in ways that avoid the clichéd formats that have become the norm.
Lamenting the domination of the media and public spaces by politicians who are mostly not model citizens, Kadaria stressed that the importance of positive role models in shaping society through the influence they exercise on the young generation cannot be over-emphasised.
Renowned artist Victor Ehikhamenor introduced Tuggar to the audience before engaging her in conversations that explored themes ranging from power to politics, career influence and the intersection between arts and technology.
Presenting works from her multidisciplinary portfolio, Tuggar who works with photomontage, sculpture and installations, defined her art as Alternative Imaginary. She uses images, objects, installations and web-based instructive media artworks which are eclectic mix of West African and Western motifs to provoke conversations on gender, electricity, infrastructure, access and the reciprocal influences between technology and cultures. Her compositions also include web-based interactive installations that allows participants to create their own collages and narratives.
Among her works feature was her 1996 sculpture, titled “Turntable”, in which raffia discs are used in place of vinyl records. The work also speaks about the ways in which the introduction of the gramophone influenced the development of local language. Because of the physical similarly between the vinyl and fai-fai in many Northern Nigerian languages vinyl record get its name from raffia disc. For instance, in Hausa the raffia disc is called fai-fai and vinyl is fai-fai gramophone.
Also featured is a work she titled “Money and Matter”, which was produced in 2002 and comments on the dynamics of money and matter. Made up of nine strings of images, the artwork, explores the relationship of humans to capital both on a personal level and from a social perspective. It also explores money as a symbol is both a subject and object of what people fear and desire.
Her works have been the subject of various panels and articles. They have been integrated as parts of academic curricula, in diverse disciplines and discussions, including technology, new media, politics, cultural studies, feminism, diaspora, globalisation, anthropology, sculpture, photography, and video among others.