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Water and Purity Image

Water and Purity

A conceptual art exhibition featuring seven female artists

Water, its uses and misuse, its scarcity, the seemingly intractable access to potable water and the consequences of this, is a theme that AAF has focused on in 2012. First through our ‘Water No Get Enemy’ exhibition and now through the Female Artists’ platform. Currently in its second edition, the female artist platform aims to showcase the work of the leading female artists in Nigeria while encouraging other women artists to be productive. Seven artists tackle this theme, four of which were part of the initial women artists platform showcased 2 years ago. They have added an in-depth, multidimensional creative approach to a complex subject matter prone to over-simplification.

Folashade Ogunlade’s 3-Dimensional installation examines the paradoxical misuse and pollution of water in an environment where there exists a scarcity of clean potable water. Observing the dilemma from the inside looking outwards, through the viewpoint that women in our society are marginalised, it inevitably attributes gender to the issue. And where ordinary chores such as cooking, cleaning, and bathing take on an absurd complexity, as though the numerous problems women in marginalised societies face are not enough, then consider the fact that according to the UN access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, and the severity of the issue facing us reveals itself in all its guises.

Forced Migration is a hidden theme that both Ogunlade and Aisha Augie-Kuta’s work share but where Ogunlade delves in sleeves rolled up, hands dirty, Augie-Kuta’s body of work maintains an aloofness and detachment that understates the subject matter and not to make light of it, but to allow room for reflection. Representing images of Northern Nigerian landscapes ‘The Source’, is interested in rain, the quantity of rainfall, the lack of rainfall and how this has shaped the northern terrain aesthetically, developed it socially in terms of population and habitation and how this inadvertently affects the future of the region. The Source quite literally hovers quietly but persistently above and observes, presenting facts that are breathtaking and picturesque, whilst successfully making accessible an important viewpoint.

In direct contrast to this, though deploying the same medium Medina Dugger gets up close and personal with her subjects using water as a filer through which she shoots abstract portraits and body shots in water, aiming to communicate the dynamic and interdependent relationship of human emotion/behaviour and environment. A different aesthetic, ethereal in nature, the images subtly explore the separation or not, that exists between the female form and the life force that is water.

Womanity by Pris Nzimiro further explores this notion of apparent separateness in a film that splits up woman’s eternal relationship with water into an internal and external relationship. Exploring topics such as health, cleanliness, notions of femininity, the body and its marvellous workings, it presents arresting visual imagery to communicate the language of the internal/external focus. Subtle notions of time, particularly notions of a linear time, are challenged and explored beautifully and in a way that is understated and comparable with the charm that women possess; a charm that can be empowering and exploitative in equal measure, and it is here that Taiye Idahor’s work shares a similarity with Nzimiro.

In comparing the state of Women in society with that of water: its ever-changing nature, its fluidity and adaptability, notions of purity and impurity, Taiye Idahor’s work with discarded PET bottles distorts, moulds and shapes otherwise waste into a new form in a mimicry of the way society has shaped and moulded its women over the years to fit preconceived ideals of beauty, role, status, to promote a particular notion, more times than not resulting in a subjugation of the sex. Cleverly playing upon the duality of the water bottle as a vessel that carries life and as a commercial object, she draws attention to what she views as the overt sexualisation of women in a capitalist society and our relative acceptance of it despite our staunch belief in our selves as a Nation that preserves culture and tradition.

Both Alafuro Sikoki’s and Peju Alatise explore this concept of tradition and culture. Sikoki’s ‘New World Water’ (NWW), with its play on convention and modernity chides us for what she perceives as our negligence of a perfectly good tradition and our lust for all that is new, bright and shiny. NWW takes us back to our roots, literally, and proverbially through her exploration into how to effectively store and dispense potable water using traditional clay pots. To quote the artist, “it is an anthropological exploration into our understanding of technology, civilisation, tradition and appropriation.”

Peju Alatise on the other hand stays in the realm of traditional African storytelling and folklore with ‘Erin Ijesha’ (The day the vessel fell). A 3-Dimensional piece that is part painting, part sculpture, it makes no distinction between the “elusive female power” and the mythical powers of water. As drops of water roll and tumble onwards meeting and forming as one in a path, into a steady stream that gains power in its increasing volume, making its way to a river where it benefits and serves its people, there is no mistake as to Alatise’s view of woman as a life force that is to be revered and adored.

We hope that you are left inspired by the works of these remarkable artists.

Exhibition Dates:

07 - 12 September, 2012


07 September at 7 PM

Wheatbaker Hotel

4 Onitolo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: --



10:00 - 20:00