Update from Qudus' blog

Sep 17, 2010

MY EXILE is in my head


Inspired by Wole Soyinka’s prison notes - "THE MAN DIED."

Conception, choreographed and performed by Qudus ONIKEKU.
Original music performed live by Charles Amblard. Video conception and performance
Isaak Lartey. Light designer Guillaume Fesneau.

Production : YK Projects
with the support of: Centre National des Arts du Cirque,
Centre National de la Danse, Bates Dance Festival Maine - USA and DRAC Ile de France

...More than a word, exile is a condition. It is a place, a knowledge, a narrative, but most importantly, it is a psychic space which is obvious to those who inhibit it, those who must engage and wrestle with it because only by so doing can they come to terms with it. Exile is poignant because it is bracketed by loss, it is not so much about movement, relocation or departure as it is about loss: of territory, of the familiar and the familial, of certainty, but most frighteningly, by the grave probability of the loss of memory.

Exile is a rupture, the cessation of things previously taken for granted, the collapse of a world of relative certainties, and therein lies its stings. It also underlines the inescapable desirability of belonging. It may be questioned, even ridiculed, but only those who have experience such loss can understand the rootlessness - and ruthlessness - of existence in the shiftless, treacherous territory of exile. Exile offers a refuge, but no consolation or pride. Every engagement with the lived experience of exile finds its most persuasive explanation not in fascination for there is no such thing as fascination for exile, but rather in the individual quest to come to terms with the fact of exile.

Every such effort is an attempt to explain exile more to oneself than to others. Through art the exiled is able to escape the burden of circumstance, even the temptation of bitterness and recrimination, and instead question, explore, ruminate, and attempt to repossess fragments of that which is lost. Through art the exile may return, in a manner of speaking, by reconstituting the past, participating in the present, as well as envisioning a new world.

( Nigerian artist, art historian and poet exiled in USA)

Through this piece I intend to deal with personal questions of home, belonging, non-belonging and exile. Above that, I also thought about creating a new homogeneous work, adaptable for conventional theatres as well as alternative spaces. At the moment, I am confronted with questions of other art making processes, through multiple improvisations; how DANCE, CIRCUS, LITERATURE, STORY TELLING, MUSIC AND VIDEO ART, could organically come together almost as a coincidence. An approach that involves the performers' bodies and the audience's eyes, the music we produce and the space that reunites us.

All these converging forces involved in this research laboratory will at the end become the incarnation of the performance in any given space and time. It is a challenge for us to think of a collective and new art making process, with an indefinite character, to create a deliberate contrast to the traditional incarceration of our works in-between four walls, and perhaps a response to the changing social and economic realities of the art world.


Sep 13, 2010

Nigeria: Fast food nation

MENU LIST - Big McAbacha with Cheese, IBB Free Milkshakes,
Obj Chicken Nuggets, Pomo on the run and
Mugu Muffins. McNigeria - HAVE A TASTE OF HELL !

"Fast food" is generally referred to as food that is prepared in quantity by a standardized method and can be dispensed quickly at inexpensive restaurants for eating there or take away, which is widely considered as a trait peculiar to the United States of America, but that can largely be contested, because Nigeria has been seriously involved in fast food even before the advent of Mr Biggs who initiated the American style of fast fooding to Nigeria. In fact our traditional "mama put" and "nkwobi" joints with their "Enter food is ready" signs, is nothing but faster foods. You wonder how possible, when you see their menu list of rice, eba, pounded yam, beans, spaghetti, fufu, amala, yam porridge and in truth they are all ready.

objCHICKEN - The Spirit of Chop-I-Chop

What other approach will be most suitable for a people who are very impatient in nature, who cares less about quality when they can get its look alike cheap and fast. No wonder the Chinese are very successful in Nigeria. Due to the fundamental ills clouding Nigeria as a state, the Nigerian suffers from anomia; a loss of memory, characterized by a breakdown and absence of social norms and values. An uprooted people that lacks self realization but mistakes it for a Nigerian spirit. What spirit? that of false image? A spirit that gives preference to mediocrity over originality? spirit of nepotism and the cult of tribalism? A spirit that leads to a self fascist way of living; always wanting. Always hoping. Always dreaming. Yes the Nigerian dream is eventually an unrealistic dream that requires an awakening. WAKE UP!

It is very fashionable to hear from time to time a certain Nigerian Dream, and i ask if that is not another imported "fast food" I mean a look alike of the American dream. An ambition with commitment and tenacity expressed in words is known as VISION, a vision with a target becomes a MISSION. The more a brand is able to stick to it's VISION and MISSION turns out to be it's PRINCIPLES and it's ESSENCE. Until now i still ask, what is our intrinsic nature or indispensable quality as a people? Out of share addiction to this same false image, celebrity culture and vanity fair, a danger remains for all who sometimes wonder, as I often do, if the Nigeria they know is not simply one of their imagining. Open your eyes fellow country men, rather than being the megaphones of these human feces at high places, rather than being carried away with all these numerous attention takers who call themselves celebrities, rather than taking to a self fascist way of living. Always seek only the combative voices and hunt them down even on casual forums like facebook.

What can be more terrifying than knowing that our future has Been held hostage by a conglomerate of terrorists disguised as leaders . What could be more terrifying than seeing our nation sink by an inch daily into a full fledged irresponsible monster. What can be more terrifying than knowing that millions of Nigerian youth wake up every morning, to watch TV, engage in idle talks of soccer, celebrities and luxury. BLIND RESILIENCE! Personally it terrifies me that frank and intense ways of "saying" is beginning to be prohibited to most Nigerians. Not because they don't love Nigeria. In fact that's where the problem lies. LOVE IS BLIND!

LOVE is NOT about gazing at each other, Its about facing same direction

Before my fellow Nigerians hang me for treason, i haven't done anything unworthy of philosophy. I do not seek; I find. Let actions alone be the manifestation of the authentic being in defense of it's authentic vision. Please understand the psycho-effect of that parlance. "Love is blind", then you will understand what I feel for Nigeria above "love." So by any means necessary!

Get out of the BOX -Think Afresh
Do I or do I not recognize the trap of my activities on facebook and this blog? I plead you all to summon kindred knowledge and kindred findings to your aid. Kindred rebellions against the lure of tragi-existentialism; for rage is no longer enough to combat the temptation to subside into unproductive, will-sapping social talks and intellectual masturbation, in which we all often get involved on facebook or Sahara reporters and other blog spots. I think every act of reflection is already an act of separation, there is no reconciliation or renewal without a former misunderstanding, so before we disagree to agree let's take away everything and let's talk on common grounds. 2011 is here calling on us all to save history and the future from eternal RUIN, but Babangida, that ruinous, disastrous, catastrophic, calamitous and cataclysmic dictator, that is worthy of a death by hanging in broad-day-light is presently topping opinion polls, and you and i sit our asses down, waiting to be dead. WAITING TO BE DEAD?