The Progress of Love: Wura-Natasha Ogunji

17 November 2012

The Progress of Love at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos explores the question and the problem of love through a series of unfolding events and of works in a range of media, highlighting performative artistic practice that has yet to receive adequate presentation or critical engagement within the field of contemporary art in Nigeria.

The exhibition is part of an unprecedented transatlantic collaboration project between art institutions in three cities and two continents: CCA, Lagos, The Menil Collection, Houston and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St Louis. This multifaceted exhibition explores the changing modes and meanings of love in today’s global society.

Whilst artist Valerie Oka started the project with an interactive performative installation exploring the multiple ways in which romantic love manifests, for the second presentation at CCA, Lagos Wura-Natasha Ogunji presents a performance which explores love within the context of familial bond and personal memory. 

Wura-Natasha Ogunji is a Nigerian American whose work deals with identity, memory, history and belonging. Using the symbols of water, art, and land, she excavates personal and collective histories and identities.  As an African in the diaspora, themes of connection – physical and intellectual – are central in her work and she uses the body as the site/surface for expression/communication. 

The performance, A tortoise walks majestically on window ledges delves deep into the lovestory between her mother and her father and the way in which that impacts on her life and has determined her identity. Ogunji says “While both my mother and father would continue to talk about being in love years after their separation, the American cultural belief that ‘love conquers all’ did not hold true for them.”

Wura-Natasha Ogunji is a visual artist and performer.   Ogunji is a recipient of the 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Dallas Museum of Art’s Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant and is a selected Artist in Residence as part of the National Performance Network’s Visual Artist Network.  She has participated in residencies at Can Serrat in Spain and Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic and has received grants from the Idea Fund (Houston) and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation (New York). Ogunji has a BA from Stanford University (Anthropology) and an MFA from San Jose State University (Photography). The Progress of Love at CCA, Lagos is curated by Bisi Silva. Project Assistant is 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.

Photographs © CCA,Lagos

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