Abraham Oghobase In conversation with Gor Soudan at I C A F Lagos 2017.

This conversation is centered on Gor’s food project in Nairobi and the influence of food, and the ‘stuff of food’, on our everyday lives and existence. What follows are some extracts from this conversation. This excerpt has been published in Kikulacho, Remains, Waste and Metonymy III, 2018 exhibition catalogue in Nairobi, Kenya.

Gor Soudan preparing food during Kikulacho, Remains, Waste and Metonymy III, exhibition.

Oghobase: Welcome to Nigeria, it is great to have you here all the way from Nairobi. Can you talk a bit about your practice and current projects?

Soudan: My practice, for a long time now, has been looking at patterns. However, what I am doing here in Lagos is a bit different, because I am here doing research for an upcoming exhibition in Nairobi, which is looking at urban landscapes through food. At the beginning it was difficult to find an entry point into this, as the concept of food initially seemed obvious. However, as I began to give this idea more thought, food soon became related to issues of politics, physical and ideological consumption, marketing and packaging, culture, language, human relationships, and the waste that comes from all of this. The simple word ‘food’ became this all-encompassing concept to start talking about urban life.

Oghobase: It is fascinating to hear how complex this theme of food actually is. We perhaps have a tendency to not reflect on issues so deeply, and as you say just see it as something obvious, or simply associate it with consumption to keep us alive. If you begin to look at food you can enter other social, political, philosophical and spiritual dynamics. For instance, if we think about in Africa, food is used in ritual.

Soudan: I think what you have mentioned is integral to the idea of food. Ritual can be this formal aspect of taking communion in church, or fasting during Ramadan, for example. But also, even just sitting down eating a meal together, and the way we eat it, has a very ritualistic aspect to it. Though this also makes me think of how food brings us together and its production, or rather the movement from hunter gatherers to farming crops, has enabled communities to establish themselves and to settle in a place for a long time. So this advancement in knowledge and technology has allowed this change of living and a rise in settlements growing in scale; which also relates to urbanisation, in that urban centres increasingly came to rely on the surplus production of food from rural areas, to sustain those living and working there. There has been a whole industry created from this. Where we are now, if we look down on the streets of this part of Lagos, they are full of people selling fruits, vegetables and other produce. These are huge markets, and then there are of course the shops, advertising, packaging and other forms of marketing, all involved in the food industry.

Oghobase: This conversation is also making me reflect about looking at food from a historical perspective. For example, food has been, and in some instances still is, a symbol of wealth. Food is connected to trade and money. Food has played a major role, historically, in terms of our existence and developments of culture, and as a means of power over others. So from this we can also look at food from a psychological, political and social perspective. The dynamics of food is really eclectic. It can’t be quantified because it is life. Though also what if we look at it from the other end and start to think about waste? With you being here we can also start to think about similarities, and differences, between all these aspects of food and the different localities of Nairobi, Lagos and other urban spaces. For example, here it is popular to see a lady selling tea, eggs and noodles on the side of the road.

Soudan: In Nairobi the street food is often things like beans and chapatti.

Oghobase: So even just talking about Chapatti shows the relation that Kenya and India have with each other. And from that we can look at other fruits and vegetables that we have today and how these are perhaps linked to colonialism. Soudan: Yes, food definitely represents transference of culture. Much of the food we have is not native to the places where it is consumed. This makes me remember my primary and secondary education in Nairobi. We were taught how certain foods came with the Europeans, for example Irish Potatoes. Though, even now this is still happening. It is not only humans who cross borders but also food. One thing I can tell you about Nairobi now is the increase in Chinese restaurants. Even here I have noticed a number of Chinese restaurants. These restaurants serving food from different continents come to symbolise globalisation.

Oghobase: Do you think food can also be seen as a new form of colonialism?

Soudan: Perhaps a way to think about it is ‘who colonises what?’ Because in a way food colonises us. Like if I come back to what we were speaking about earlier when we moved from hunter gatherers, who never had a permanent settlement, to being able to have permanent settlements because we were able to grow crops. So it is these crops that colonised us because then we had to stay in a place – a place where there was sufficient water and a good environment for these crops to grow. So who colonises who? But as a result of this food has even inspired our architecture. We have to build places to store this food, like granaries, we build structures to protect the farms, and because we are in one space for a long time we can start to use different materials as they no longer need to be lightweight and easy to move.

Oghobase: These are interesting points and they also relate to issues of conflict which we see happening in Nigeria today. This has to do with the design of food, or the design of farms in Nigeria which are large fenced areas – which aim to limit peoples’ access to land. However, there still nomadic tribes who travel to graze their animals, and because these farms take fertile spaces, conflict arises between the nomads and those who own the farms.

Soudan: This is a challenge that has persisted for a long time, the conflict between areas where people have settled and laid claim to the land and nomads who move from area to area seeking the best pasture for their livestock. How we grow, store and consume food has always inspired design. Especially when we start to think of functional design. Do we design things so that they function, or is it the function that inspires the design? One of the things that strikes me, because as I said I work with patterns, is when I was arriving to Lagos from Nairobi was the patterns on the land which are a result of our need for food. From up in the sky these patterns are really pronounced. These places of human agency, places on the landscape that we have touched, you see rows of crops growing, they have definitive borders with other farms or the wilderness, these farms are linked to roads and bridges, which through these passages connect the rural to the urban, connect the food to people, and in so doing enable these urban centres to survive.

Meet The Artist

Gor Soudan ( 1981), practice shifts fluidly from the conceptual and the philosophical to the physical and sensual. In it mind and body are dynamically engaged in an exploration, through material labour, of the social and material interactions observed in the world around him. His works simultaneously reference both the body and the landscape and cause us to reflect on how histories of human agency are written on both.

Project outline

Food, and the nourishment it provides is vital in multiple and diverse ways; and it becomes central to people’s everyday experiences. Our relationship with and experience of food, its associated practices and the ‘stuff’ of food, is intriguingly complex, diverse, and ephemeral. Remains Waste and Metonymy III seeks to explore the ways that food – in all its diversity of material forms, meanings, symbolic association and values – has, and continues, to form, and give shape to multiple, contradictory, sensorial experiences of and insights into urban living. Using this as our central unifying theme, Remains Waste and Metonymy III considers the ephemeral and material significance of food; the multiple functions and interplay between food, performance, ritual and identity; the spaces for food’s production, distribution and consumption; and the multiplicity of physical, social and political networks and relations in which food is embedded.

Like the city, food is subject to change. It has an ephemeral nature; what is created, becomes consumed and provides vitality in number of ways. Though what remains, becomes waste. Over time food decays, but its packaging remains, leaving traces of what once was. Food therefore is very temporal, it has a ‘life-span’. But this temporality extends beyond the tangibility of food into the multiple encounters associated with food and the mediating role of material things. The objects used to prepare and consume food, the tactile experiences involved in its production, consumption and marketing, the materiality of specific space, or the occasions marked by special dress, decoration and behavior, all influence and shape urban practices and reveal our sociality and our place in society.

Our connections with food – and the webs of meaning we spin with and around food – can be interpreted as a marker of our humanity. There is often something inherently communal about actions related to food – from growing, harvesting and slaughtering, to preparation, cooking, sharing and consumption. Food can, and often does, bring us together. It can also differentiate us. Meals often become a cornerstone of communal relations. Aspects of eating (what, when and where) and the associated rituals, ceremonies, fashions and taboos can be held up as powerful markers of who we are. And who we aren’t. Food is intricately linked to belief systems, cultural contexts, contradictory or coherent senses of self and community. This reflects the inherently complex socialites of food, which can denote, serve or reinforce social relations and boundaries, or alienate and set us apart. Access to food, or particularly kinds of food is also subject to restriction and shifting matrixes of inclusion and exclusion. Our relationship to food is influenced by governmental decisions that profoundly affect the economics of food production, and the quality and safety of food. Tyranny has often been built on the control over food, causing, at times, critical shortages, crises and famines.

The spaces used for eating, as well as food production and disposal, reveal different sites of control and power across the city. These may have been specifically designed, planned or designated, but such efforts are always limited, especially in Nairobi, where odd corners and verges of public space become appropriated to food production and consumption in improvised, yet creative and sometimes subversive ways. There are, in sum, many intriguing connections between food and place, inclusion and exclusion, gender, class, public and private, not mention bodies, persons and subjects, and the rituals, meanings and values that find orientation around or through the production, consumption and sharing of food; geographies of food, or in ‘foodscapes’ that reveal the fundamental role that food, and all of its diversity of social and material associated activities, plays in shaping urban environments and socialites. These foodscapes are much more than simply spaces of or for food production, distribution and consumption. They offer new ways to think about and participate in the socio-spatial practices of urban lives, both contemporary and historical, and the changing networks and relationships of people, plants, animals, places and substance that constitute the emergent city.

Using the theme of food as a way to think about and contextualize the urban lives and relationships that constituted and are constituted by the city, Remains, Waste and Metonymy III opens new possibilities for exploring and understanding the complex social and material lives that make and are made by urban environments; highlighting and questioning the varied roles food, the stuff of food, and its associated practices hold within everyday urban lives in Nairobi.

The artist proposes to make a visual installation presentation of work which will result from research in Lagos, Nigeria. The artist is intending to be in Lagos Nigeria, during the proposed production period for Remains, Waste and Metonymy III, to participate in another concurrent project with Vernacular Art-space Laboratory residency program 11th to 30th November, Lagos, culminating in an exhibition during Iwaya Community Art Festival, December 6th to 12th.

Lagos is Africa`s most populous urban center, and the artist`s work will focus on complexities revolving around production, supply, consumption and disposal of food in Africa`s most populated city. The residency period and festival will function as a research and production period for the work that will be presented in Nairobi in February 28th next year. The artist proposes to present installation of work which will be connected, but not be limited to, the body of work that will have been shown in Lagos, in this way presenting a sense of Nairobi looking in and out with Lagos as the dynamic.

Lagos and Nairobi, apart from their obvious geographic differences share vast similarities politically, socially and economically. Both of them are dominant economic hubs in their respective regions and share the same colonial legacy, but they nevertheless vary in their sense of food culture. It is of interest to the artist to look at how this may be, in terms of texture, marketing and ceremonies that go with food consumption and production. How is food consumed publicly? How is food consumed at home? How is it disposed? The artist will undertake visual research and production work in Lagos` at different places of food encounters; food production facilities, food markets, public eateries, in the homes and finally at points of food disposal as the I C A F Lagos 2017 Artist-in-Residence program requires the artist to embed themselves with a Lagos family and locality. As a result, the project will focus on sensing Lagos food production, consumption and waste from the artists` own origin, Nairobi, so as to offer a city to city transfer which hopefully will translate in a greater sense of perspective of complexities of food production, consumption and disposal for audiences in both cities.

I C A F Lagos 2017

Abraham Oghobase in conversation with

crazinisT artisT (Va-Bene Elikam Fiatsi)

One of the special project artists at the second edition of Iwaya Community Art Festival – I C A F Lagos 2017, was Va-Bene Elikam Fiatsi popularly known as crazinisT artisT.   His performance, “nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame” was live streamed on Facebook and there was an artist talk with the co-curator of I C A F Lagos 2017, Abraham Oghobase after the performance.

Artist Statement

“nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame” explored the iconography and symbolic gestures of Nigeria- Ghana expulsion of the 1969 and 1983 reminding us of the visible metaphors in contemporary conditions and narratives of citizenship while evoking debates on Trans- Cultural Revolution, xenophobic threats, socially excluded citizens, the tensions between modernity, indigeneity, post-colonialism and immigration.

crazinisT artisT at I C A F Lagos 2017
Va-Bene Elikam Fiatsi (crazinisT artist) making up for his performance, “nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame” at I C A F Lagos 2017.


AB: I will like you to give us a brief words on what this possession is about.

VB: This performance is called Native Immigrant and you would be asking yourself how could you be a native and also be an immigrant at the same time. And for me, in most of my performances I like to play with the montages of events, opposites, contrast and also time. So, bringing back into memory the history of expulsion, which happened between Ghana and Nigeria is really an important reflection on time, space and past, present/future. First, Nigerians were expelled from Ghana in 1968 with allegation of not having legal documents and also being citizens, then in 1983, history repeated itself in a reverse, over one million Ghanaian were expelled from Nigeria and many of the went back to Ghana on foot during the early period of fuel crisis in Nigeria. Some died on the way from the account of the history I have read, because for you to leave a community which you might have lived for many years, 30 to 40 years, raising children and also properties, you couldn’t  have carried everything away. So, frustration set in and other unforeseen issues on the journey to Ghana where many of them did not have connection with any more. Imagine the agony it would have caused the children who were born between the 30 to 40 years whose parents died on the journey, and they have no legal documents to prove that they are Ghanaian. For me, the montage here is to look at history as an ongoing process of human situation. It is not about thing left in the past but it is also about things in present existence. And if I talk about expulsion in this sense, many people are being expelled mentally and many people are being removed from their own communities mentally because they do not conform to doctrines or dogmas, and they find themselves not belonging to this kind of communities. And we could talk about race, gender, sexuality, religion and everything that could could cause our displacement in a contemporary condition. Personally, many of my works address gender and the conflict between gender and sexuality, I like also to play with this iconography and symbolism. So, if you happen to find someone in your community who do not conform to gender role, and male who behaves like a female or female who behaves the other way round and not necessarily about their sexuality, but they have a stigma about their appearance and therefore they feel removed from their own community, and they are forced to start thinking about a utopia community they want to live in, and they start talking LGBT community, and they yet do not belong to this community because they do not also conform to the ideology of some of LGBT communities. Once you are trans- or transvestite your sexuality should also conform or also go in this line. But somebody could be transvestite or very feminine and still be heterosexual. How and where do we place this people? Personally, I tell people I am a lesbian and people ask how? Of course, I am a lesbian because I do not conform to any of these binaries whether in LGBT community or conservative/homophobic community, I do not conform to any of them because I play with the multiplicity of these permutations. You could be this and yet you feel that and you could be that feel different. I play with all these things and try to make montage of performance where I bring history and also the present condition of marginalized and vulnerable people together, so I am not necessarily talking about Ghana and Nigeria victimization, but I am talking about the condition in which we find ourselves, condition in which we talk about history, and we sympathhizewith the victims of the past, and yet we repeat similar crimes and violence  or similar thing on different levels. To call this performance Native Immigrant is to leave it to the audience to think about how to be a native and yet an immigrant. What is your citizenship or your own  sense of belonging, your claims to identity?

AB: What is very interesting is how you used the conflict between Nigeria and Ghana in terms of what happened in 1968 and 1983 as a backdrop for your performance, which also becomes a metaphor for main issue. In this performance, you have several layers, which is what I find interesting. In terms of aesthetics, one could see the flow of people walking with mats, brooms, soaps, even mattresses and that gave me a sense of reflection about history and I think it’s very important and crucial to look at the issue of migration at this point in time. Especially what is happening around the world right now when we look at Syria and other places where we have displaced people like Sudan and within Nigeria. In Maiduguri, north-eastern part of Nigeria, a lot of people are displaced. There is an infiltration of authoritarians who want to change statoscope of things. For me there is a connection between all of this. Now the question I want to ask by giving this context is that what is the relationship in terms of what you are wearing aesthetically and the people that flowing with in the possession. To me, it is like a river people.

VB: That’s an interesting question, I had expected that to come from the participants. I had wished that I would have been here for one month to get connected with people in the community. This would have afforded me to create families: mothers and fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends, which would have given me the opportunity to develop a project that could have been presented for just 30mins. Presenting one whole month in 30mins could be an interesting thing for me but unfortunately, I am just here for three or four days. Even though I always say that Africa is not a country and not boarding house where people behave similarly but there are some things that are always related and not only in Africa even across European borders, you will find African aesthetics that often prompt the question, what is it about human relation? I think human being is just a spiritual entity that we are already related even though have not had the physical contact. So coming here and thinking about my project, I started to look at things I could find on the street markets and I found this beads, which is interesting to me because this kind of beads are used to initiate people into another sense of being. This is transitional period between childhood and adulthood and even from aged-hood to death. Being displaced is also a way of being initiated into another space; with your bags and the rest, is an initiation. This gives a certain feel to the people who see you pass the idea of a transition whether mentally or physically. And this is why the idea of Ghana Must Go Bag came into existence because this is just an ordinary bag that has been in existence but became the material that initiated people from one space to another space. I think if all of us had carried Ghana Must Go bag and people who lived in the time of that transition/initiation, they would have a very strong sense of emotion and reflection about this procession . When we look at transnational trade, most of these beads and bought in Nigeria and sold in Ghana and vice versa. This make identities fragmented because some form of identities are not cultural but social aesthetics, these are the elements and ideas I incorporated in my performance within the few days I experienced here.

AB: I will like to open this up to the audience because we do not have much time. Do you have a question?

Olufela Omokeko: Can you tell us the correlation between colour red used in your performance and the theme of your performance?

VB: Firstly, Native Immigrant is a painful situation of an individual. It might not be a physical torture but mentally, you could feel very much entrapped either in your own body or in the society. It is a personal struggle, which has to do with pain, internal violence and self-conflict that you fight personally. Talking about red, I started performance art by using it as an iconography of pain, violence and so on but I also discovered that red is sexualized, romanticized-material, erotic and it could be seen/interpreted so differently depending on the picture you want to imagine. So, presenting this red as the dominant colour in my performance is presenting ambiguity and identity is of course could be ambiguous. Red could also borrow religious symbolism, which carries the idea of African traditional belief system that have been neglected/negated, especially if you are a Christian or a Muslim. I was a Christian, forgive me if I keep mentioning Christians in this talk. Christians are made to believe that anything that relates to African tradition religion is evil. I was specific about the use of waist-beads and for it to be put on a man’s neck, in Ghana  connotes defiling masculinity, as though he is being dehumanized. And if a woman removed her waist beads and put it on the neck of a man, it means humiliation because in Ghana, there is stigmatization about women materials being inferior. This is the reason why I used female panties in most of my installations. If you come to my studio and you are the type who could not withstand this type of visual, you may collapse because the studio is full of female panties and reds.

Olufela Omokeko: Don’t you think that this performance might instigate a neo-Ghana-Must-Go? I mean, look at what is happening in Libya where Africans are selling themselves as slaves.

VB: Well, it depends. Everything we have ever done (could elicit either positive or negative energy), it depends on the perspective we read it from. I feel it is my artistic responsibility to open dialogue for people to discuss. This is your turn to discuss. People in the community who saw the performance in their various spaces are talking about it already but whether their ideas tallies with my idea or not, the performance has generated a conversation, which might go on for long, good or bad but I like to be optimistic. You mentioned Libya issue, this is not the first. Xenophobia in South Africa is crazy for me and I do not like to talk about it. This is because this is a country that experience a very strong racial violence and repeating it in a new form is different. Yes, this kind of performance in this kind of community could instigate something negative but African communities are advancing. We now know that Iwaya is not populated by people from Yoruba land alone…there have been intermarriages from different ethnic groups and therefore, it will be difficult to expel anyone from the community. Perhaps, the people who want to expel you might be the immigrants in the community. Going back to the history you might realise that the only connection/relationship such persons might have with Iwaya or Yoruba land is that their mother is from here and in some communities, one do not come from one’s motherland but a fatherland. This complication can also be relevant for us to think about when we are struggling for identities.

AB: I was very much curious, I was playing the participant observant role on the street during the performance, I was kind of looking at how people were reacting even going as far as asking people what they think about the performance and some did not have good things to say. The little girl you wanted to buy something from was scared because the performance was heavy for her. And that for me touched on the current performance art carries that sometime we do not talk about. The girl was scared because she did not know what the performance was about, which is influenced by certain kind of aesthetics that could be connected to the African traditional belief system and for me, I thought that was interesting. I talked to another girl, a young girl, she said I think he is doing something ritualistic, I recognised the part of ritual and possession, but I am trying to get what the other symbols are. Another passerby said this guy is crazy. I find these dynamics interesting because people respond to the current of the performance, sometimes do you wonder what this current does.

VB: Something in my performance in general is to bridge the gap between the audience and the performance. This is important for me because it questions the margin between art and real life. So, if you present some forms of work in a public space, you will be repelled by getting close to this works. Other people would have gone to white cube space to absorb it because it has been framed. When you frame a concept or an idea, it feels easier to tolerate but when you put it in a public space, the confrontation becomes so heavy for to absorb. For me, between performer and the audience is “co-performance” and this is the reason why I stopped on the street and buy from my “co-performers.” They were not aware of my coming and meeting them at their point of business, I transacted with them. They do not need to know my identity or my race nor my gender to sell to me. Their business is to sell and that’s why I am there to buy from them. Although, they have the right not to sell to me; also I have the right to hide my identity. I like to play with the idea of from an art space or performance you into life and from life you run back into art. My “co-performers” have been indirectly oriented into performing with me because they are selling but not to ordinary customer but selling within an art framework/conversation even though we are not talking and that is why the girl found it so heavy to engage because a ritual-person possibly might not have stopped by to buy from her. But as a performer, I am so fluid, I could take anything from you and I could have even walked into a church and knelt before the pastor to pray for me. I could have also gone to the mosque and other places of spirituality. This is because I am fluid like water or air, which is how I want people to perceive this performance. And buying from the people in the community is my way of involving them in the performance. By so doing I am sharing with you my experiences. For me, I feel that Christianity has invaded my space for 33 years of my life. In the commercial buses in Ghana, there is always a preacher who in the cause of preaching to the passengers chastised/rebuke you for piercing your nose as a woman because he thinks you are not a good Christian. A woman with three piercing on her ear is condemned by the preacher without permission and this approach I see as performance, which is very aggressive and subtle at the same time. So, the girl’s reaction to my performance is sympathetic but this is our collective reality. If I had met this girl as a preacher who was well-dressed in a suit, she might have given her product to me free. And to depart from there, you will see that it is about the images we already have in our minds and these are the images I want to deconstruct to create fluid relationship between people and art. You don’t need to pay to go to a gallery and now that the gallery has come to you, you are running away from the gallery.

AB: It is interesting how you talk about performance in a white cube, which made me think about Jazz’s performance with Marina Abramovic and also the complexity of memory that unleashed during the performance. I think that there is a place for performance to happen within the white-cube, I won’t discredit that because there is a place for it but I understand what you are mean when you say you are not interested in doing performances in white cubes.

VB: I do performance in white cube spaces but is as the same as on ordinary streets and public spaces

AB: It is good to clarify.

VB: I have done a performance this year in a gallery called Gallery 1957 , but I am also interested in colonising spaces and this why my installations take over spaces. In this gallery I stripped the walls off its conventionality by installing my work all over which gave the feeling to audience of being in my bedroom or washroom or private-intimate space. It feels like you are in somebody’s intimate space but it’s a white cube space, which can be played with. I don’t have personal conflict with this kind of spaces but I feel it’s important for the people living in this community who might not have the opportunity of going  into white cube spaces to have a certain feel of art differently, and they have the freedom to react to it the way they have done. After some years, they would reflect about what they have seen again and something new might come out from their own judgement and imagination. One cannot evaluate an artistic impact in a community like Iwaya through the large number of spectators, it could take ten years for some people to wake up from the confusion, shocks or something.

Call For Participation

#ICAFLagos2017 calls for 200 participants for Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT) performance: nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame that will take place on December 9th 2017 in Iwaya Community. To participate in this performance, which its point of departure is the retelling xenophobic history between Ghana and Nigeria, by the Ghanaian artist, please send your name and contact number to


Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT)

nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame

ICAFLagos2017 - Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT)How does one become foreign to the self, alien to the others and nonexistence to be protected by law and by his own people? What are those multiplicities or binaries that exist beyond being human: Class, race, gender, religion, cultures, politics, and ethnicity or …? Could we ever be at ease? Is there any home as home, foreign as foreign and stranger as stranger?

“The paradox is our story, the metaphor our life, the irony ourselves…”

“nativeimmiGrant II – efiewurasuame” will explore the iconography and symbolic gestures of Nigeria- Ghana expulsion of the 1969 and 1983 reminding us of the visible metaphors in contemporary conditions and narratives of citizenship while evoking debates on Trans- Cultural Revolution, xenophobic threats, socially excluded citizens, the tensions between modernity, indigeneity, post-colonialism and immigration.

Expulsion has been critical and most traumatic moments for individuals, groups and families throughout African history and many black communities. The concept of nationalism, alien, citizenry and otherness has expanded beyond human sense of belonging, patriotism and cultural identity to the state of being paranoid and vulnerable hence the necessity to flee danger, death, humiliation and torture.

According history, 1969 recorded ‘Nigeria-must-go’, which resulted from a decree from the government of Ghana requesting all non-citizens without permit to exit within two weeks, repeating the revers 13 years later in Nigeria. In 1983, the Nigerian government expelled more than a million Ghanaian migrants a few, the largest exodus in the West African history given the name ‘Ghana-must-go’ to the chequered bag uses by most Ghanaians for their luggage.

The performance also questions our own sense of belonging and identity, and the contemporary narratives of human displacements spiritually, physically and psychologically as we may culturally be removed from [home].

Description of the performance activities

The performance will be a processional participatory enactment covering a distance of about 2 km; approximately 30 minutes’ walk where Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT) shall lead in beads like a “Dipo” teenage. All participants shall wear red draping long polyester drugging on the floor about 1 yard behind. Each person shall carry at least two Ghana must go- chequered bag of desired weight and rolled student mattress (preferably worn-out or over used).


  • There shall be no rehearsal but all participants will meet with the artist a day before the event to discuss the structure of the performance.
  • There may be some improvisations later.


  • 200 participants
  • Bare footed
  • Ghana must go with drape of costumes, rugs or dresses
  • Used student mattresses (preferably worn-out)

Deadline: 5th December 2017.

Contact: Send your name and mobile number to

#StillNoLongerAtEase #ICAFLagos #ICAFLagosAIR #ICAFLagos2017

Grigri Pixel 2017. Selection of citizen initiatives from the continent of Africa

“After an international call for bids, although placing special emphasis on Africa, the following people from African towns have been chosen to participate in the workshop: Aderemi Adegbite from ICAF (Lagos, Nigeria), Essome Ebone Ismael from Madiba & Nature (Kribi, Cameroon), Gnikou Kodjo Afate from Woora make (Lomé, Togo) and Toure Ndèye Mané from Côté Jardin (Dakar, Senegal).

Likewise, the Grigri Pixel workshop will be accompanied by a video-mapping creation residency, carried out by the artist, Bay Dam, from Dakar, using MapMap open source software. This residency will be held in collaboration with the AVFloss group from Medialab Prado. At the end of the Grigri Pixel workshop and coinciding with the installation of the object made for EVA, the work carried out during the video-mapping creation residency will be presented.”


Iwaya Community Art Festival (ICAF Lagos), is a project conceived by the Vernacular Art-space Laboratory Foundation (VAL Foundation) to challenge the notion of art in the white cube and bring art closer to the people who are unaware and might not be able to afford to see standard exhibitions in galleries and museums, through the use of alternative and abandon spaces for site-specific installations and performances. This festival make use of the streets in Iwaya community and environs for alternative artistic interventions.
ICAF Lagos started in 2016 as one of the numerous artistic inventions by the Vernacular Art-space Laboratory Foundation (VAL Foundation), which was founded in 2014 by a group of Iwaya community literati led by the artist, Aderemi Adegbite. The aim of the Iwaya Community Art Festival is to bring local, national and, where possible, international artists to Iwaya for dialogue and discourse through visual narratives and interventions that are none conformity to any presentational style or rule.

Read more here:

Call for submissions and applications for ICAF LAGOS 2017

ICAFLAGOS2017 Call for submissions

The call for submissions and applications for Artist-In-Residency programme for the second edition of Iwaya Community Art Festival (ICAF Lagos 2017) is open to visual artists, sound artists, light artists and performances artists from Africa and other nationals until the 31st of August, 2017.

Click here to read the conceptual framework of ICAF LAGOS 2017

As the use of both alternative and abandoned spaces are central to our style of presentation, we are looking for works that could be immediately printed with the use of different techniques for public space and site-specific works/performances. We are not seeking for studio-made works that are delicate and cannot be exposed to dust, sun, air and moist but works and instructions that fit in public spaces.

 Aderemi Adegbite
 Artistic Director, ICAF Lagos 2017.



The works of the participating artists will serve as a visual dialogue for communities in Africa and other parts of the world. “Some years back, underdeveloped was a popular phrase used to discuss countries in Africa and South-east Asia but today, it is Global South and Global North dichotomy. The struggle is between the haves and the have not, and this plays a bigger role in how art is perceived and consumed.” They will also look at the surreal reality in Lagos, “the divides that put the poor on the Mainland and the rich on the Island, which in turn, affects the appreciation and consumption of art in the city”. Excerpt from The Sole Adventurer (TSA) website.

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Last weekend, in the streets of Iwaya located in Yaba, a suburb of  Lagos, the Iwaya Community Art Festival maiden edition was live.

This great initiative was presented by the Vernacular Art-space Laboratory though rarely known, this platform promotes interdisciplinary art collaborations. The festival is a first of its kind in recent times in Lagos art scene.

See more photos here:



The maiden edition of the Iwaya Community Art Festival tagged “ICAF Lagos 2016” took the centre stage last week, as the event was held between 9th December – 11th December. As a result, Iwaya community was treated to a variety of Cinema, Story-telling, Dance, Comedy nights, various arts and crafts featured by participating artists. The festival was declared opened by 1pm at Fazi Omar School, Iwaya on Friday, 9th December with a performance by Odun Orimolade titled “Monument”.

Proceedings for the closing ceremony of the festival began on Sunday 11th December by 3pm with “Beyond the Comfort Zone”. A panel discussion on ‘Space-Conscious Artistic Interventions and Alternative Audience’ moderated by Emeka Okereke.

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