Jelili Atiku – Araferaku

24–26 January 2013

Over the past four months CCA, Lagos has presented a dynamic and diverse perspective on the idea of love through performances, performative and interactive installations, videos and films. The public programme has included a roundtable on Performance Art in West Africa with artists from Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. A literary perspective was provided by authors, poets and a playwright, highlighting the different variations of love. As this unprecedented transatlantic collaboration with The Menil Collection, Houston, and Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis, comes to a close at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, love is celebrated through the performance of Jelili Atiku in a moving tribute to a father that he never had the opportunity to meet.  

Commissioned as part of The Progress for Love, the two-part performance piece Araferaku (2013) loosely translated from the Yoruba as “A Part of Me is Missing,” triggers personal emotions which manifest as an eulogy of a son to a father who died seven months before his birth. 

Araferaku takes place over three days. The first part is a forty-four hour durational meditation invoking the memory of his father. Taking place in an empty space covered floor to ceiling with wallpaper of the only fading photograph of his father, Atiku invokes the memory of a presence that is absent. Alone throughout most of the 44 hours representing an hour for each year of his life, the only person that is allowed—albeit briefly—to share in the moment is his mother, creating a trilogy that is almost transcendental. The second and final part of the performance mimics the traditional Yoruba final burial rites ceremony, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction as an attempt is made to attain a state of closure through the public depiction of a universal emotion. Jelli Atiku (b. 1968) lives and works in Lagos. 

The Progress of Love presented the work of Jelili Atiku (NG), Andrew Esiebo (NG), Zaneli Muholi (SA), Adaora Nwandu (NG), Temitayo Ogunbiyi (NG), and Valerie Oka (IC). Curated by Bisi Silva with curatorial assistance by Taiye Idahor.

The presentation by Wura-Natasha Ogunji in Lagos is supported by a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Progress of Love is being underwritten at CCA, Lagos by the Menil Collection and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

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