Lagos in the Red

A short documentary film on the Lagos, Nigeria, performance artist Jelili Atiku.

Image of Jelili Atuku by Enoh Lienemann

From the perspective of one who appreciates Nigerian art, it seems as if a disconnect persists between those artists, almost exclusively painters and sculptors, who work in a mimetic realist representational mode and cater directly to wealthy local patrons, and other artists who press well beyond the limits of conventional art. The commonsensical view assumes that performance, sound, installation and new media artists inhabit an elite space aligned more with a “global” or “diasporic” art world, and that their creations alienate or come off poorly with a popular Nigerian audience by virtue of being too conceptual or just out of touch. Nothing could be farther from the truth and Jelili Atiku, the Lagos performance artist, puts the lie to that misperception in a dramatic and very significant way.

A new video (below) by Danish filmmakers Lotte Løvholm, Nanna Nielsen & Karen Andersen documents one of Atiku’s recent performances in the Lagos neighborhood of Ejigbo. It is significant that Atiku carries out his performance in the community in which he lives. Far from the more glamorous but stultified centers of artistic activity in Lagos (Victoria Island and Ikoyi), Atiku brings to life a discussion of violence, crisis, national consciousness and humanity in the streets of Lagos.

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