The narrative is changing for the visual arts in Nigeria. A coalescence of curated conversations and an exhibition of varied art forms, including crypto art, marked the first edition of the NXT.ART fair and the beginning of technology-driven solutions for the arts. Reporting by Yinka Olatunbosun
A pan-African platform, AfricaNXT is famous for its online and offline initiatives aimed at celebrating African ingenuity and empowering creatives, entrepreneurs and organizers to drive Africa forward.
Recently, he presented the art fair at his annual conference held at the Landmark Event Centre, Oniru, Lagos, creating an opportunity for artists, gallery owners, curators and others in the art ecosystem to rethink the future of the arts.
A walk through the art pavilion opened my eyes to new ways to make art more commercially viable. With a first stop at ADA NFT Gallery pointing to the general theme of the exhibition “Here and there”, the atmosphere was set to demonstrate the role that the digital revolution could play in the “reterritorialization” and “deterritorialization” of works. creative.
“This is the first time that we have merged the world of art and the world of technology,” said Jepchumba, founder and director of African Digital Art (ADA). “We have an incredible culture, a global culture and go around companies. We finally have the opportunity to connect African artists to resources and audiences.
“For example, if you’re an artist and you want to come on the platform and mint your art, that means they can’t just buy your art, but they can actually own your art and share the royalties. The reason we have conversations between art and technology is because that’s where the foundation of innovation lies.”
On the platform called NANDY Market, an artist can trace their artwork long after it is sold and engage with the new owner to fix the royalty, license and contract.
With this technology, visual artists can earn royalties just like musicians long after their years of active practice and even pass the privilege on to their offspring. The disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has paved the way for innovative solutions. Although countries have closed their borders, technology has erased the borders of many businesses.
The world couldn’t be more global as opportunities await artists exploring crypto art.
Seun Alli, the director of June Creative Art Advisory (JCAA) revealed that despite the fact that the post-COVID-19 market has been difficult for the arts, the opportunities for emerging artists are endless.
“We are very attentive to young and new artists in their career. We are talking about artists who are 10 years old or younger who are not yet at the intermediate level,” she said as she guided us through pieces by Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu, Laja Oladotun, James George, Joseph Ogbeide and Musa Ganiyy. .
Charlene Chikezie, founder and curator of Forme Femine Art with a gallery in Lagos and Berlin, also presented works that resonated with themes of African femininity in art, female bonds, vulnerability as well as the evolution of self.
“It’s about reimagining how we, current generations of Africans, can begin to reimagine our future,” she began while explaining how each artist explored unique techniques to project the theme and how women can serve as support systems for each other,” she mentioned.
Ugonna Ibe-Ejiogu, artistic director of the Cinnamon Lagos fair and NXT.ART, explained the reason behind the fair which attracted more than 500 visitors from February 28 to March 4.
“We have seen a growing interest in art and art events, especially with arts from Africa. As a technology company, we wanted to create the opportunity for people to learn about new art forms. There are many opportunities for artists to make money beyond initial sales,” she said.
Tony Agbapuonawum, the curator of “Curated Conversations at ART Fair Pavilion,” expressed his optimism for the speech, adding that it would help forge new ways to collaborate, new ways to reinvent and foster prosperity in the ecosystem. of African art.
The three-member panel included painter-sculptor, Ayoola Gbolaha; painter-photographer, Isaac Emokpae and winner of the Art X Prize 2021, Chigozie Obi. Under the theme “How art contributes to generating a social identity, a new culture and building a nation”, they shared their views on their individual approach to art.
For Gbolahan, public art forms should embody Nigerian history while artists should be socially engaged.
“The artist is not a content creator,” he argued. “Society needs you to be a catalyst for change. You can use art as a means of political rallying and you can do that with art exhibitions. It starts with curators talking with artists and raising awareness.”
Obi’s use of his native language, Ibo, deepens his appreciation of the arts and the meaning embedded in his works. More importantly, she optimizes the visibility of her works through technology.
“I’m a Gen Z and I’m active on social media. You can use your social media platforms to inform and engage people,” she said.
Referring to Afrobeat pioneer Fela and legendary sculptor Erhabor Emokpae, artist Isaac Emokpae postulated that setting a cultural precedent is a way for African artists to represent Africa.
“If people don’t innovate, they will copy,” he says.