I was looking forward to attending the events of the inaugural ARESUVA (African Regional Summit on the Visual Arts) taking place in Abuja, Sept. 7-13 under the auspices of the National Gallery of Art, Abuja. Unfortunately, I cannot make it; certain things don't change when it comes to organizing stuff, from the Nigerian end. Nevertheless, I am curious about ARESUVA. Joe Musa, the Director of the NGA is the force behind the project, which I understand will include an exhibition of work by artists from many African countries, and several discussion panels on various aspects of contemporary art in Nigeria and Africa. The program, for an event organized by a Nigerian institution, is quite ambitious and I hope the organizers meet some of their expectations.
But I cannot help but call them out for what I see as clear case of sloppiness. In the list of invited artists, Sane Wadu from Kenya is listed under Cameroon; Odili Odita who was born in Nigeria and resident in the US, is listed as a South African artist; and the list has "two" artists from the Congo (DRC): one is "Isek Bodys" and the other is "Kingelez." In addition to many glaring misspellings of artists' names, someone ought to take a look at the ARESUVA website. It just does not speak well of everyone associated with the project.
Yet, ARESUVA is a bold effort especially in an environment that, since FESTAC 77, has shown a pathetic lack of ambition and vision in sphere of contemporary art. Joe Musa seems poised to shake up things, but all things considered, it is not going to be easy...
Nothing changed a year later, yeah, some things never change in Nigeria.
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