Curator Contemplates Post Covid-19 Art Scene

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By Yinka Olatunbosun

A curator and culture activist, Oludamola Adebowale has said that this period of pandemic needs forward-looking interventions to keep the art community alive. He revealed this in an electronic chat with THISDAY on the heels of the seventh anniversary of ASIRI Magazine. In his view, stakeholders need to work to provide a work enabling environment alongside funds for the art community. For Adebowale, this period of hiatus for the creative industry is also an opportunity to develop new ideas, engaging innovations and create more body of works.

“The period has allowed artist more time to work and also look inwards into some new ways of expanding the scope of their works in different fields. I personally think it’s about time we start to explore the tech space and also the VR and AVR Space, having curated an exhibition for the British Council some months ago around the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality space, it is definitely a space worth examining. I am currently working on a few projects around this new emerging space and hopefully, we will able to upscale the Nigerian history, culture, heritage and arts narrative with these new innovative tools,” he revealed.

Although, all may seem bleak for many artists at this period, Adebowale anticipates a robust cultural life after Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have been busy lately and I know a lot of my colleagues who have even been busier. For most of us, getting our projects funded is a very hard-hitting job, but we haven’t let that slow us down, we have been working. So, I foresee a lot of innovations and projects for the post-COVID era. It is going to be beautiful and it will also be tide shifter in the cultural life. On the Major side, the world is going to be witness a lot of change and innovations. The post-COVID period will be the new dawn of a new world order and the world will see brilliant innovations like never before,” he declared.

Seven years ago, Adebowale conceived the idea of a cultural archive and thus, ASIRI Magazine was born. The online magazine has been a part of the young curator’s journey towards preserving and promoting Nigerian history in the absence of proper archiving system in Nigeria.

In his experience, Adebowale had been appalled by the state of decline of existing archive centres in Nigeria and he told THISDAY about his recent findings.

“I was at the Archive Centre in Ibadan, last year January for a research project and I was aghast at the state of the centre. It’s a tough process of conducting proper quantitative and qualitative research and getting one’s facts right before we share this information on the ASIRI Magazine social media platforms. I have to rely on foreign academic institutions, archive centres and journals. Even at that, it’s a very tough job of sourcing for information and also validating that information before I put it out. The quest of sharing information around our history and culture can be a sensitive one,” he revealed.

ASIRI Magazine brand has been a self-funded project that inform and educate Nigerians about their history and cultural heritage, earning positive feedback from online audiences.

“The amount of informative materials we have put out there for the last seven years is as a result of diligence, tough labour and determined sheer will of pushing the Nigerian history narrative. We have been able to achieve a huge track record of success because of this,” he said.

For a busy bee, Adebowale’s daily routine during this pandemic has been a careful balance of work and rest. He draws his curatorial inspiration from reading and at night, he embarks on a research. His exhibits are fresh and original with portfolio of shows that include distinguished artists such as the Juju musician, Evangelist Obey Fabiyi and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.

“The last exhibition I produced and curated was for Prof. Wole Soyinka titled ‘Timeless Memories: Elastic Effects.’ The exhibition was the grand finale of the Wole Soyinka at 86 in 2019. Over 19 illustrated works were displayed, a 9 feet long mural, a 22-minute documentary I produced and there were some other artistic subliminally art effects in the room that gave a warm feeling to the exhibition project. Curating is something I would love to go in fully as time goes on. As a historian and a researcher, there are endless body of works around Nigerian history, arts and culture that I would like to showcase,” he said.