A Conversation With El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa

thank you thank you all so very much for coming today thanks to a net for that wonderful introduction and for inviting us to participate in this public forum today professors and it's suhey oak adichie and I are honored to speak with you today I'd like to thank Simone witcha for all of her generosity and her amazing staff here at the Blanton Museum it's just been a dream to have the exhibition here they've all been extremely generous and kind a special thanks to our net car lot see a deputy director for art and programs working with her on this exhibition has been again a joy and it would not have been possible without her it's due to her professionalism kindness and enthusiasm for Elle and his work that Ellen Atsui when I last wrote to you about Africa is on view at the Blanton Museum of Art thanks also go to her amazing staff without which we would not have this exhibition I'd like to give a special thank you to Amy Chang manager of Public Programs who organized this afternoon here today James Swan had installer who gave the exhibition a sense of movement and joy that I had always envisioned it's the first time I'm seeing it as it was absolutely meant to be seen and he gave the objects room to breathe and that is such a such a very important thing for me as a curator um I'd also like to thank just Jason mendiola who organized Elle's trip from Nigeria it can often be an arduous Trek but we've gotten him here with safe and sound thanks to Jason so wherever you are Jason thank you for that as well I could not imagine a better venue for Ellen at Zooey's work and I hope when we go through the images today you'll be inspired to go back through the galleries and experience the work in person in the flesh there's also two very other important people I'd like to thank professor Moya oka dici who lectures here at the University and I'll and it's suhey it is his lifetime of beautiful work that brings us all here today so with that please allow me to properly introduce our guests of honor boy oh boy oh oka dici is director of the center of the arts of africa and it's diasporas here at the University of Texas Austin he's an art historian an artist and a curator he studied Fine Arts at the University of FA before proceeding to the University of Benin where he did an MFA in African art criticism poetry and painting so he's an artist and a scholar at the University of wisconsin-madison he received his PhD in african arts and diaspora visual cultures and he's apprenticed with several indigenous African artists working in both sacred and secular mediums including Matt weaving textile designs terracotta shrine painting and sculpture after teaching for several years in Nigeria Professor Oak adichie relocated to the United States 1992 and for 10 years he was the curator of African and oceanic Arts at the Denver Art Museum and I'd like to say that this is very much a homecoming for me because I first taught at the University of Colorado and worked at the Denver Art Museum for professor oak adichie and it is really due to his invitation and intervention that I have this relationship with Island and have the wonderful position I do at the museum for African art today so thank you for that very generous a intervention in my career he's also exhibited as I mentioned he's an artist at various places including the new Museum of Contemporary Art in New York the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC the Corcoran Centre in London National Museum in Lagos Nigeria and he's the author of several books and exhibition catalogues including african renaissance old forms new images in Nigerian art and the shattered gourd yerba forms in twentieth-century American art which I believe we worked on a little bit together when I was in Denver so I'm honored to have been a part of that and now professor Anat suey Ellen Atsui was born in ghana in 1944 and earned a bachelor's degree in sculpture and a post graduate diploma in art education from the university of science and technology in kumasi ghana he's currently professor of sculpture at the University of Nigeria in sukkah where I believe he very much hopes to retire at the end of this month we'll see we'll see if they let him go so he's been professor there since 1975 and in the intervening years he's had work that appeared in group exhibitions at the fowler museum of cultural history at UCLA the october gallery in london the celebrated africa remix exhibition that toured to london paris tokyo stockholm and johannesburg which was quite a coup he's also been participated in many be annals including venice havana johannesburg gwangju sharjah and prospect one in New Orleans cow a solo show of his metal sculptures which I hope you've seen in the galleries or we'll go see after this talk has travelled through Europe North America and Asia in 2008 he received the visionaries artist award from the Museum of Arts and Design in New York he's a laureate of the 2009 Prince Klaus award and his collection his work has been collected by institutions internationally including the British Museum London where I first saw his work the Centre Pompidou in Paris the metropolitan museum of art the museum of modern art in new york the north carolina museum of art and rally the Denver Art Museum thanks to Professor Oak aditi the nelson-atkins museum the de young museum and most importantly for us here today the Blanton Museum in austin texas so thank you professor for all of your amazing work I'd like to invite invite you both to come and join me on the stage and while they do that i'll just mention that the format for this afternoon's program will be more of a dialogue we're going to have a going to have a chat with all of you as part of the conversation I'm going to moderate introducing a few questions addressed both to L and Professor Oak Adichie and we'll talk for about 45 minutes kind of hash out some ideas that have to do with the show and with Elle's work and its legacy in terms of art history and then the discussion will be followed by the all-important question and answer period I know you have many questions for professor and Atsui and so we'll make sure that you have plenty of time for those as well this exhibition is a retrospective of your work over the last 40 years several decades and it includes works in various media wood sculpture or wood metal ceramics other materials painting but some of the earliest pieces that we have in the exhibition are these wooden trays that were produced in Ghana and I think Kara truly speaking really set the stage for works to come and I wondered if you could talk a little bit about how this idea came to be how you worked with other people who sort of intervened that these many hands that you like to talk about having a relationship to your work yeah thank you very much I think I want to thank everybody here for finding time to come well to listen to the little that I have to say yeah how did I stop in the trace I have a couple of years I am okay yeah we're in at school which i did at a university of science and technology in Kumasi Ghana it happened that the curriculum was skewered you know in a towards Western art well because the school was affiliated to go Smith College London and most of the staff we're from outside with twinkling of indigenous staff who were also even trained abroad you know so there was very little exposure or no exposure at all to do whatever you could see and call indigenous at you know we're taking through all the Westerner curriculum in art history and in the studios and towards the end of the course I I and a couple of colleagues decided to really go out and find out something about well something that belongs something that would teach us something about our own artistic heirloom and incidentally they college happened to be in kumasi where the national cultural center is located and we used to go there where we came to Cyril and listen to music watch artists painting printing fabric weaving fabric musicians drumming all kinds of things and over they had discovered this body of science that we are peculiar and we're very attractive to me because of the fact that they attempted to encapsulate some ideas which I thought were very abstract you know well in a school taught about the Renaissance and all these when that was a way of looking at the work which was more visual you know but coming across the body of water today they were different than they were protein things from a different looking at things from a different perspective and so I got drawn to them and for five years after i finished at school I worked with them trying to learn how to draw this and how to well follow the motions that created them you know just like an art student in in the US would have gone to museums you know how to get acquainted with what happened in art before him or her yeah I had my own Museum material in this symbols and for in order to make thing really indigenous I looked for a ground which was also indeed nose and eyes incidentally came across this a trace that I used by market remainder in displaying their wares they will put tomatoes and fish and other things on them Brown trace and I thought that should be a beautiful way of really well a beautiful means of displaying this mind symbols that I'm trying to work with they actually printed on fabric which are worn at funerals and it's believed that funeral locations are occasions for reflection upon life itself so most of the symbols would have something to say about life you know and so I worked with this on the under fabric they will be printed in so many repeats yeah well what I did was to isolate them one by one put one on a tray and then create normally in the middle of the tree and then create an ambience on the border recruit our betrayal which would which I thought would help to reinforce its meaning well that sort of and ties in with this next image that I have which is actually the one of the title pieces for the exhibition it's called when I last wrote to you about Africa you often use very poetic titles if not poetry or references to language communication as we just saw with the trays using these Adinkra symbols in your work to communicate but it's not often a very literal communication it's more about this active of exchange between people and so I wondered if maybe through this title piece you could continue to talk about that relationship between language and communication and that runs through a lot of your work and certainly through the exhibition yeah well being that that a source from which I got the symbols that inspired me where why more more more like to say fabric clots which communicate you know daddy cry Claude is a clot which is saying something and I think that has been other well something we just run through my work so far you know this idea of using text you know I came to Nigeria in 1975 half time between five years in Ghana and upon arrival discovered that they also had some many traditions of sign in 0 communication you know among the EBU among the year were among the eb hbu and so on and so forth and after that I discover that there are so many other such traditions in other parts of Africa you know and at about that time to oh no in the university i remember that i read somewhere claims that africa did not have a writing tradition and so coming across all his body of of you know traditions which were aimed at communication i thought that i should do a work with here would say something about it so this is this work which happens to be the title work for the exhibition took root from that time you know Annie consists of signs that are grew from all these traditions the only is there disability they're adding Christ there and semana plus some that I created by that good after so many years of working with this I thought I should be able to create own science as well and and all designed in that letter which I wrote about Africa a else work speaks in the language of poetry and this language of course one that combines music with proverbs so that the each letter is layered in such a way that what the individual tix to the work becomes immensely amplified and rewarded just through the personal experience of the individual two but one of the fascinating things that I see actually in else work is the balance of probably wounded attention between the finished product product and the creative process and if you saw the process through which some of these incredibly beautiful pieces are created you'll be amazed at the seeming contradiction um I I saw one video once i think it was made by the Smithsonian in which you pressed this chainsaw into the body of the wood and lacerated it lacerated it and what we are in this mask and the entire room itself looked kind of darkish and then as the chainsaw began to scream it seems as if the woody service yelling back and then as if that violence wasn't enough you grab a blood touch and began to now Brown into the body of this wood but it's fascinating that as you did this the work began to emerge into this incredibly beautiful beautiful object so there's this almost tension between the creative process itself and the finish what we want to address that yeah the processes that I use especially when I work prefer we would as you as you mentioned where those of violence you know violence inflicted by a tool which was meant for violence you know the chainsaw on wood is the height of violence and and not only that did the fire and that I used you know now the chainsaw I kind of discovered or decided to use as an art to I've used it previously just love would you know but I went to a an artists colony long ago I 1980 also no 1970 late seventies in Massachusetts and and there well in trying to well I use chainsaw to log would have brought it to their to my studio and and in trying to do some further work with it I discovered our Valley he has a language that is one language language we is here characterized by the violence and roughness and and dictatorial tendency you know and so I decided to when I went back and decided to now exploit it and for about 14 to Wally I still work with it back but intensely I worked for about 14 15 years you know creating pieces that had so many illusions additions to so many things including the history of Africa you know more especially the the conference that were held in Berlin in 18 something either in the late late late eighteen hundreds at which the continent of Africa was put on a table and then shared you know I thought that what I was doing with the chainsaw was trying to leave those moments you know of hearing you know something into bits and pieces know so I work with that for quite some time you know before changing to the current media that I work with I think I think the act of using the chainsaw brings us to this point where I wanted to talk about the element of chance in your work it's it's a very difficult tool to control even though I've seen you use it almost like a paintbrush or drawing but its its jagged it's rough it's you never quite know what's going to happen as you say things are often carved into pieces or you carve pieces of things that eventually become a whole piece and so I wanted to follow through on this and talk a little bit about the element of chance in your work I have a picture of digital river behind us where you used ceramic but you often have pieces of things that come together and can be rearranged to be something new each and every time also going back to thinking about the wood pieces I have coins on grandma's cloth up behind you where you use not only the chainsaw but a router and the wood slats and so I think it'd be interesting to talk about how important this element of chances in your work and then we'll move to talking about the more recent bottle top pieces which really take that element to a whole new level I think yeah I think the element of chance had been something that I've been lurking in my work arrived from when I was working with chainsaw than other power tools with the chainsaw I would work in slots which will be put together into a composition and I would originally put numbers behind but that was only an initial proposition the idea is that anybody who wants to display it as a freedom to ignore those numbers and and use his own sequence you know and this works these slots were so free that he could do so many things with them apart from changing the order rearranging them you could do so many things by shifting them vertically and horizontally you know and even playing with the intervals you know you could separate them wider and then close them on you know so many things were possible with them and it began to appear to me that I was thinking about the artwork as something which is life it's a life it's not something which is cut and dried it is something which is always in a state of flux here is though you don't know what each day is going to bring and I don't know who is going to be a closest friend today or tomorrow you know all these things keep changing and I thought that my artwork should be something which reflects this fact a perfect example of this is the piece and the blanton here I thought you could also comment about how the bottle top pieces have this ability to change each and every time and how that piece is installed here and and that ability to move as well the element of chance and these works as well yeah with the from the would die now came onto the metal pieces that had several elements linked together by while creating a from which is very free and you know like like like fabric are you know that you can do anything you can rip in any way you know with the results that there is no time that any one of them would be displayed in three different places and then they all have the same format you know they're capable of coming small contracting small and expanding you know fully and so many and capable of being displayed in so many ways the equivalent of Florida could be on walls they could be on on hedges as I've done in some instances and so on and so forth this piece being made in Nigeria so people can see the mobility and movement of the piece you remember this oh yeah and you're talking about having it over over ahead he was mentioning the ability of it to move but this is before it has any rumple's and wrinkles on it and yeah well I think it brings in the element of performance yes into the composition itself and the performance starts not just with the finished work but right from the moment of inspiration when the artist begins to conceive the work itself and it continues through the creative process and doesn't stop until the work itself is consumed by the audience but the the concept of performance also enables even the audience to be part of this process and that reminds me of some is it anthropological the methodology of participant observer in which there is in this separation between the maker and the viewer of the object and I think it also brings in even the element of musicality in the sense that if there's a musical piece written it can be performed in different ways by different artists and if for instance this museum were to god forbid sell this object are lonely to to some other museum it could be totally arranged in a totally different way that would present it a very very different kind of experience and dumb L is a musician and do you want to tell the story of how you find out he's a musician wow you are putting me on the spot but I'd love to it's one of my favorite stories so L and I were hanging out in New York and I found out it was his birthday and this was been Fela was still on Broadway it was several months ago and I thought oh I'm going to take him to see fela it'll be this great you know Nigerian connection night love music and he'll be excited and I it's very proud of myself so we went to see it and any of you who have seen fela on Broadway or as it's going through its tour or have been to the Fela shrine in Nigeria which I've had the great luck to do you know it's all about movement and dance and very much an experiential moment so we're there L and I clapton away and after it was over I I said L wasn't that the you know greatest birthday present I got to show you Fela and he said yeah it's not as good as he was you know in person and I said in person and he said yeah well you know my band used to open for him when he went Torah ever I was so embarrassed and that's that's when I first learned he was in a band called the tech 10 which really fits along with what you're saying there's sort of a I hate to you know quote jazz if that's not an influence of yours but it does have a very jazz like element to it the ability to always move and sort of riff upon its location in any different environment and be experienced differently by by each person that sees it is that my my on to something here and my way off course yeah yeah okay yeah actually played trumpet in a in a university band my school days and what we had a music director was an American you know Lecrae there and and he was taking us through jazz you know were playing tunes like a stop stomping at asava and take the A train and you know such talk and one day a bandleader came and regale dad with music from a very talented young musician from Nigeria and he happened to have stepped the music when he had it on the radio and played it whether we thought wow this is this is something you know and that happened to be fella starting off his career you know he started with high life you know but the high life was different from any high love you yeah a jazz-age to it you know and so we started follow his career and not too long after that introduction fella happened to come physically to Ghana on a tour and I was brought the University and we had the opportunity of meeting him and during the his performance our band was allowed to play during the recess you know and and I played Phyllis trumpet he was a trumpeter before he reached out to you yeah before he who I switched on to psych the phone in also is a musician who is very close to my heart and if I tell people that one of my reasons for Ivan stayed in Nigeria all this while was that you had someone like fella in Lego six hours away you know that he could travel to go and listen to you know if we follow this career so how his music changed in form first and then later on his lyrics became more acquired more inside you know and became more Warford social you know too so that's it about music and my when he talks about high life you probably I'm sure not everybody knows what high life is no high life is a waste of West African musical form that is quite hybrid it combines elements of R&B with ellipse amusing from the Caribbean with elements of reggae music as well as West African drumming and rhythm and even though it is found throughout West Africa its home its core actually is in Ghana which is his homeland and there are so many incredible high life musicians in Kanna and once is that element of musicality of the improvisation of the life musician in in else work I absolutely agree and I think I think one of the things now that we're talking about music that I think connects it's it is also a language and it's also a way of communicating across cultures and I find this to be a really important part of your work I have a slide up here of opening market which I think speaks very eloquently about the relationship between cultures and what we consume musically visually linguistically and so I thought maybe this will be a good time to talk about how that's important to your work as well the connections between people between individuals communities global cultures how important this is for you in ways that you work yeah not only connection between people whether the way people relate to objects you know like the bottle caps like this and so many other things that I work really came up a point in time that I got interested in things that people have put to use things that people have employed in doing some other things no like these are empty teens that have been a repurposed you know into boxes that well when I was a kid we used yeah we used bigger versions of that kind of box you know painter at the back in black and red you know for traveling or what I'm going to do high school you pack your things in Eden and went to school with it you know sauce grandly surprised when I say an adult I saw a miniature version of that you know taking me so many ways back so many years back to to when I was in a kid in ER and I was curious you know to know what those boxes were still being used for and I was told a trinket boxes you know and being trinket bodily a small in size and when I opened I saw that the one eye open was the empty teen of Ovaltine you know Anna and I look for the thinkers who produce this thing and this camera daily use almost anything all the product produces that I mean you can find in the market you know and I decided to Commission them to produce these boxes for me and when I debris reproduce them i sorta very various products that are displayed in them you know does market and then the back of them they painted them black and red you know and I think this should have something of Islamic origin because the red is a crescent the crescent moon yeah but I don't know where it came from when we when we use this as a skids and up till today I don't know where I should think that each driver Islamic origins now the title came about when I went to a supermarket to look for more produce because I needed more you know and I saw a flask maiden I think Japan for the UK in sukkah market you know and so many other products and I can't be began to occur to me that this is something like an open market a good mood for the European Union is being so there and so and so forth so the idea of open market opening market came in an open market to can refer to so many things Africa is a place that has received things from so many parts of the world not only goods but ideologies and you know even education and other things you know they came from all parts of it of the world so it's to me an open market I think I think that's interesting you're talking about different markets and relationships with other cultures that you find in in sukkah but you have traveled quite far and wide yourself and experienced other cultures and in many different ways and especially for artist in residency programs i think that's a big part of your work as well that has influenced a number of projects and so we can talk a little bit about a coup is surviving children or some of the other projects you've done on different residences and how you also work with objects you find in the environment when you're traveling on these residency programs okay aqua surviving children is its it is in the shoe and it's made from driftwood you know that I collected on a beach in Denmark did then much yeah then money and this is a story behind it I was invited by the Danish government to come and do a work in response to a tint was celebrating 200 years of abolition of slavery and they happen to have done their slavery project in the Gold Coast's which is now Ghana where I come from and so they look for ganyan artistic and I was invited I was taken there and given a blank sheet to just create anything and they took me to so many places that they thought would be okay or ideal for me to work and they weren't they didn't quite strike any chord in me until finally somebody asked have you taken into the hammer mill so following the world's taken to the hammer mill which happens to be a forge a force that was used in making mussels for guns you know and anybody anybody my age in West Africa would know about then gasps you know dem guns so the idea came so this where Dan guns were made which we are using slave raids in Africa oh I said I'm going to work here in the fourth I didn't have any idea about about blacksmithing or any so acting way but I I knew that there will be something so elements that I could use in the fort you know to create something and therefore CH happened to be very close to they see that evening when I was going home I was standing by the shore for the train to come and I saw down down by the cost a log so I went down raise it and so how the elements of nature have worked on these gaudy street I have been toasting to the CL well that have been used maybe as mooring or something that's something to the sea so it's been exposed to all the elements water air what have you you know and finally if we washed ashore and I thought I was a good metaphor for you know the idea of hearing people from land and taking them to a strange environment and finally they're coming back to land you know and the intervention that I did on them with the in the Forge was to use the fire of the Forge to burn little pieces that I attached to the standing ones you know so they became something like humanoid forms and the idea of the fire was too well if this have been exposed to the 3d elements of water and air I thought fire was the last one that they needed in order to complete a cycle it also their faces are burnt black in order to you know integrate them into society so that's how awkward surviving children about and the name aqua across child akuaba if anybody knows about akuaba the Aquabat doll at the fertility doll which well is common in in a can part of ghana and i'm sure some people run all about it the Aquabat door which has a round head and then the amps at this way and then a slim tall so they are thinking in the fertility doll is called aqua aqua x equals child then i was thinking of a lump that is sofa tire as to produce so many children that after so many have been taken away their cielo some more left I was just thinking about how else work has really changed the visual language of contemporary Africa not in many ways because one of the major paradigms for working in contemporary African art is is to look from elements of traditional African art and combine that with the contemporary but with Elle's intervention this seems to have changed a lot of the artists that are now growing up are not so much interested in these synthesis of the past and the present they now seem to be more interested in exploring environmentally conscious art that is looking for found objects and using the find objects in new elements and I wonder how you want to react to the works of these artists who are now influenced by your work yeah I've always believed in the the element of change you know I don't think that thinks she will I like my work you know they shouldn't be the same thing any time you see them they should be changing you know and as a teacher I've always given my students things which contain challenges if and X a project doesn't have any challenge then now read it to them you know and I thought that one of the best challenges that you can give to students is to have them face a new medium a medium that they are not used to because when you are used to a medium that tendency will be there as soon as you see the star doing the usual thing with it but if the medium is new then it will stop you in your tracks and you got to sit on pink and work out what precisely to do with it and in the process you are developing a language you know now it is not that the ease of found objects object from the environment is new to African well are producing the African continent you know I think it's something that had been there right from the beginning we only had an interregnum of well of where we only had a the incidence of a school's coming in from the West you know interrupting this and instituting in its place the use of the so-called traditional materials like when I was in at school were handling plus our Perry psych stuff which didn't have any relationship you know to the environment they wasn't produce the end and and so on over and I thought that in traditional African at which you ought to know about later on they would use things that were occurring in the environment you know they will combine things like wooden and skin and so on and so forth feathers and you know in an hour the sauce their material or their media right from around them you know and we've had a long period of a school's having introduced this idea which took us rather back and so what I think I'm trying to do me and some colleagues trying to do is to kind of bring back is a kind of attitude attitude that in the past would lead artists to work with this unusual materials you know so yeah I think that the students of mine who are working at that line I are doing great work and I can see the future for them kind of helping to and reach our lives I think and I think that's one of the great legacies and that you have given to the students in Nigeria but throughout the world I've had the great pleasure to know some of your students and how they've taken this lesson that you've given them and applied it to their work people often ask me if their work looks like yours and I say well does it it's not that it looks like it but they've really taken what the master has taught them in terms of looking around and using things in your environment that might be bottle caps or it might be pieces of wood but to take them and I remember you said too bright it was that if you have something as simple as a piece of wood bring them together in mass make it big make it so that when someone stands in front of it they are dizzy and I thought that was such a lesson that's such an instruction for the students to learn how to take a couple of bottle caps and then there's a couple hundred bottle caps then there's thousands of bottle caps and then it's this monument to the life around you I remember the piece we built with just logs that we piled high and you painted the ends of them so taking something very simple and and giving it this stature I think is really one of the great legacies of your teaching and and I do look forward to seeing some exhibitions of work by nana Corey and bright EK and some of your your students have really listened to the master and I know that's important on a teaching campus to really listen to what your professors are telling you and take that in and make it something that that's yours and take it out into the world in a new way which which fits in with your idea of change as well take it make it your own and make it new yeah that's a very happy when a student of mine came for his graduate work and I asked him what he wants to and he said he wants to work with water is this subject as okay and and I think today is one of the best known of my students is got invitations to almost every place you know that has something to do with the environment you know yeah because he said himself that task of going into a medium which is unusual and we have challenges you know yeah well on that note should we be students ourselves of professor and it's suhey and asking some questions is this a good time to do that all right I happen to grow up at a time that my country became asked about teenage when my country became independent and the idea of independence were brought in this sense of euphoria and well we thought we were free and and therefore we're going to do something great you know and one of the first things that did was okay colonialism cavalia faces on rail and other various is removed what you do you look around and see so in most parts of Africa at a time there were movements well maybe syndromes of going back to look at some of the things that were there before the colonial project started and trying to learn things from the padding Ghana I remember we had a song cava syndrome sankofa means go back and pick you know go back and pick it is a sensory well something like introducing the sense of historicity you know into one's life you don't just keep moving forward but we go back and look at what you did in the past and try to use it as a way of moving forward and when I came to Nigeria to we had led they had I think nobody sorry Ella rebels there were people who rebelled against the Western way of teaching art and opened up you know vistas two people to look more at indigenous art forms and one of the very common ones is the only which happens to be championed by Gucci okk who happened to be the the chair of the school that I went to when I went to Nigeria so me coming from the sankofa and then he coming from the early you know schools you know found it easy to move along yeah but this habit of of naming some works long long long long after yeah we got most the time you to understand what you've done you know and it takes some time you know the intervention of time you know my bring back bring to you some probably understanding of yeah when I did that work I in Seattle is a two-sided be that the back says something else and the front is something it's the back yet and in the back right on the back yard and as a friend i love the front and I saw that we're looking at it I have a feeling that what is happening is seepage you know there is a seepage happening there so I only two days I only two days ago I want yeah give it a title see page so it's no longer is no longer entitled which I think isn't it's a part of your process as you said you often give a title later on and and that for me it also has to do with this element of chance and play and I never call you know what's going to happen really open to the display of the back exam oh yeah yeah I I did tell ya when I went to the museum yeah i told i told i remember you very hot so you could occasionally sure the back and people people think you've got a new work not always in English they have been several works that I title in my language well my language is very peculiar one it is toner like like most African languages are two now the same word you know different inflections mean so many different things and you can have a word same spelling if you don't turn market can mean yeah well won't it turn market then it means a particular thing and I by language we don't turn market I know that in your body turn mark and it would have plenty of to mark you know so so yes there is more precise than my language my languages leave it open so so that that element of the indeterminate makes it attractive to me to use it for titling air for four titles so that it could mean so many things a good example would be say album in my language album would be wasp and bomb would be chained I'd known the coconut and gone the basket and soon and so fast this is why I don't speak yoruba my Cleveland tongue can't do it yeah this this process when I work with chainsaw machines are fast and you have to think about what you want to do before you start them but with with this it is manual and laborious and slow I don't do any drawing any longer you know I start with a portion and then keep growing you know because something spread over many many days or months no so it's an organic kind of thing many people many people who assists me where I worked there a lot of young chaps who just out of high school and in Nigeria University places are very limited and as this big competition for them you got room you know take exams and trans exams you know and do well to get in there and most high school leavers would spend 23 years taking this exam before they finally break it and so this young chaps living in the vicinity of my studio coming to help me you know whilst preparing for this exam and on a good day I could have like 30 people are working you know and with that what would have taken many years this probably with me alone you'll be talking about a year or more you know but with this then you / 30 they had directed I could come in and say okay now let's have these in black lace is black throughout maybe I think this work started from the from the middle the black portion there and after some period of going in the blue the black said okay let's mix it with something so it turns out into a lighter color and finally say okay let's use the silver that's all I the back of their of the bottle cap the inside of the bald cap you know the outside would have a good have the colors but the inside is silver so rather freedom to use all those colors so that's how it grows I've had a location of having this displayed in Venice the work was outside it all Venice's lot of salt and wind and you know was outside for six months and when he came back I saw that the sound salt and everything had affected it and to me that was a very beautiful discovery because the colors that were reduced it was reduced to we're very very appealing you know the patina of eighth ya can with them so I now is that I now spread some of the bottle caps in the Sun so that i can get bleached you know and given that old look yeah the same applies to tearing and other things tears alcaldia welcome you can patch them anyway if you want but but left me I wouldn't I wouldn't touch them you know when you have well it is not a human being you you have to age and things up we change or become a diet functional about you and so on so father you have to learn to live with them yeah this is all the fights that I've had with museum people they want things to stay that way throughout you know and as they don't live that riveting screwed it was he'd given during this visit to austin and it's seepage as if there was a is probably not the most beautiful analogy but i was thinking of some sort of like oil or some sort of dark liquid that you set a cloth on and it starts to seep through and makes a beautiful pattern that's kind of the visual I'm getting from this is that the right connection so the seepage yeah there two pieces of these are made like I titled them months cloth and woman's cloth that's taking the idea from from the Kent a tradition you know but then if you go beyond that you will see that the work which are addressing you know gender issues you know and then they're not limited to the idea of Kent a yeah I've am from a I can't a living tradition you know what that wasn't what I've been working with it sits by well is by coincidence that the color schemes of the bottle caps which I didn't give the cops anyway that's how I found them the color schemes happened to reduce of Kente cloth you know so my work is not limited it has allusions to can't ever is not limited to contain you try to look beyond container you might be able to get something more out of I would actually say that we were acquiring his work at the Denver Art Museum one of the ways through which I presented the work to the broad members who basically had a Western education was to highlight ideas of abstract specialism of color field painting of even pop art as part of the language from which his drawing in addition of costume indigenous African art I think I think and they work starting from the idea you tend to close yourself in you know and then you wouldn't look anywhere else you want to focus on it I'm and it becomes a problem you know limits you and maybe if you spent many many many years you could get it back you don't have many years to live yeah yeah that's why not what I find out yet so I walk straight with the material on the process what I can say to this that I know about the collective unconscious you know my people the average in their migration history pass through your balance you know k2 and all these places resonating the in the history of my people and I think that the collective unconscious might be at work over here in this case you know it's not something that I personally experienced or a little bit but my people are experiencing and therefore is part of my consciousness you know and so I think that it's likely that such influences are there good I think that's a great place to end on the influence of Africa and l's work in our lives thank you so much for coming you you

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