Sunday, 28 August 2016

In Venice, Architecture, Art dialogue over ‘conflict’

Resolving conflict in contemporary architecture and art within the context of socio-cultural changes, among other issues will form part of an interactive event of the Nigerian Pavilion  at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition Venice Biennale 2016 themed Diminished Capacity.
Agenda Setting’ II - deviant amplification (detail) 2008, courtesy Musée d’Ixelles , Brussels / Ola-Dele Kuku projects © 2016.

The interactive programme tagged A Continuous State Of Time, according curator of Diminished Capacity, Camilla Boemio includes lectures, debates and workshops on the contemporary phenomenon of conflict in architecture and art, in times of socio-cultural transformation.

  Holding on September 7, 2016 (16:00 hrs.) at The Nigerian Pavilion, Spazio Punch, Giudecca 800/o, Venezia 30133, Italia, A Continuous State Of Time is an integral component of the formation and evolution of a social system, conflict emerges as a significant mechanism that instigates change rather than unanimity, Boemio states. “This phenomenon materializes in the form of various vital events such as wars, natural disasters, emigrations, population displacements, birth, death, and choice. These events ultimately become the stimuli  and variants in the transformation of societies.”

  The contemporary sociology of mass media communication reveals a consistent presentation of agendas rather than reports which are illustrated by selected interest in particularities, focus and oversight, adds architect – artist, Ola-Dele Kuku whose works form the contents of The Nigerian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016.

  Boemio argues that the constitution and composition of a social system involve conflict as a process of modification towards a different future of experience. She notes how evolution in contemporary culture is predominantly forged by conflict or vital events which are instigating new conditions of adaptations and developments.    

   Guest participants include: Ahad Moslami (Artist) – Iran; Giacomo Carlesso (Poet) – Italy; Cinzia Didonna (Università Iuav, Venezia); Alice Mestriner (Università Iuav, Venezia); Camilla Boemio (Curator, Writer) – Italy; Students from the Università Iuav, Venezia; Ola-Dele Kuku (Architect - Artist). The panel aims to reflect on the topic of Socio-Cultural Conflict, a theme which is recurrent in Ola-Dele Kuku’s works, lectures and research.

  Excerpts from her text: “Therefore, conflicts can be understood as a familiar interdependent relationship involving constrains and obligations. 

Understanding the conflict phenomenon as a catalyst of socio-cultural evolution, reveals that the notion is a stimulant for improvement and progressive tendency. Hence, the accommodation of conflicts is a prominent objective within all aspects of social planning and intervention’. 
Collective Representation' – article 1 (one sided light box) courtesy LMS Gallery Brussels / Ola-Dele Kuku Projects © 2016.

What does it take to create an alternative approach within the routine of responding to a conflict?

How can you translate the very complex dimensions of extreme human conditions in conflict and disasters zones to something someone can relate to within their own private space?

The concept of conflict -  as the main organisational principle behind the way things are ordered, conflict is not necessarily a negative, destabilising factor, on the contrary can one even benefit from it?

 “A Continuous State Of Time’ is an initiative curated by Alice Mestriner (Università Iuav di Venezia), with the collaboration of students from the Università Iuav di Venezia, as a parallel event relating to the installation by Ola-Dele Kuku (architect – artist), titled 'Diminished Capacity', for the Nigerian pavilion at the15th International Architecture Exhibition Venice Biennale 2016.

‘Diminished Capacity’ was conceived as a reflection of the contemporary global phenomenon of 'Socio-Cultural Conflicts', with specific focus on the role of 'Information / Communication' and the 'Mass Media'. The exhibition will be presented as a reaction to the frictions of social communication and the mass media, vis-à-vis the notion of a unitary tendency of society and common values.

  Meanwhile, researchers and academics are encouraged to send their confirmations to participate in the debates. Documentation of the event will be eventually accessible online and will also feature in the book titled ‘Diminished Capacity’ which will be attributed to the Nigerian Pavilion for the 15th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2016.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Step aside western superheros, Okupe’s 'Wale Williams' hits shelves in U.S

U.S-based Nigerian, Roye Okupe seems to have African answer to western comic heroes. His African comic hero E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams is a potential success in the creative business of Superhero comic.
Cover of E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams

Okupe, 31, according to The Washington Post arrived in the United States in 2002, and attended George Washington University where he got a bachelors and master’s degree in computer science in 2007 and 2009.  While studying for the degrees, he he took a class in animation at the Art Institute of Washington.      
From then, Okupe’s world of comic creation started opening up as he would later found  YouNeek Studios, the home of  E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams. READ MORE. 

The 'Greats' Between Two Pyramids

It is not contentious that Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza is far the icon of the ancient world’s mystery in engineering and architecture. But another ancient monument, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, built by  ancient adherents of Aztec temple in Puebla, Mexico has been described as the largest with a base four times larger than Giza's.
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt.
However, unlike the Egyptian Pyramid at Giza,  the Mexican monument has been hidden by physical distortion that makes it look like a natural mountain. Reason: over the centuries, plants and dirts have covered the pyramid because of the nature of its construction. The Great Pyramid of Cholula was built with blocks made of mud.

In fact, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, according to sources was unaware that it was a man made pyramid, when he built a church on top of it. The church still stands till date

 Zaria Gorvert of BBC reports that the pyramid was likely constructed with a type of brick made of out of baked mud, with features of six layers built on top of each, spanning generations.

The statistics:  roughly 33 BC old, base of 450 by 450 metres (1,480 by 1,480 feet), it's four times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza;  66 metres (217 feet) tall, the pyramid’s total volume is about 4.45 million cubic metres (157 million cubic feet), while the Great Pyramid of Giza’s volume is just 2.5 milli" It was abandoned sometime in the 7th or 8th Century CE," archaeologist David Carballo from Boston University told Gorvett at the BBC.  "The Choluteca had a newer pyramid-temple located nearby, which the Spaniards destroyed." on cubic metres (88.2 million cubic feet).

Statistics for Great Pyramid Giza: It’s over 4,500 years-old, 756 feet long on each side, 450 feet high and is composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each averaging 2 1/2 tons in weight. Despite the builders’ ancient technology, no side is more than 8 inches different in length than the other. Scientists till date are still marveled at the whole structure’s  perfect alignment to the points of the compass.

 Also known as Khufu’s Pyramid, named after its architect, The Great pyramid at Giza is the only ancient monument still intact as it was built over 4, 500 years ago.

   The pyramid is estimated to have around 2,300,000 stone blocks that weigh from 2 to 30 tons each and there are even some blocks that weigh over 50 tons.

 The interior temperature is constant and equals the average temperature of the earth, 20 Degrees Celsius (68 Degrees Fahrenheit).

The outer mantle was composed of 144,000 casing stones, all of them highly polished and flat to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch, about 100 inches thick and weighing approx. 15 tons each.
The cornerstone foundations of the pyramid have ball and socket construction capable of dealing with heat expansion and earthquakes.

The mortar used is of an unknown origin (Yes, no explanation was given). It has been analyzed, and its chemical composition is known, but it can’t be reproduced. It is stronger than the stone and still holding up today.

It was originally covered with casing stones (made of highly polished limestone). These casing stones reflected the sun’s light and made the pyramid shine like a jewel. They are no longer present being used by Arabs to build mosques after an earthquake in the 14th century loosened many of them. It has been calculated that the original pyramid with its casing stones would act like gigantic mirrors and reflect light so powerful that it would be visible from the moon as a shining star on earth. Appropriately, the ancient Egyptians called the Great Pyramid “Ikhet”, meaning the “Glorious Light”.  How these blocks were transported and assembled into the pyramid is still a mystery.

Great Pyramid of Cholula, Mexico.
Aligned True North: The Great Pyramid is the most accurately aligned structure in existence and faces true north with only 3/60th of a degree of error. The position of the North Pole moves over time and the pyramid was exactly aligned at one time.
Center of Land Mass: The Great Pyramid is located at the center of the land mass of the earth. The east/west parallel that crosses the most land and the north/south meridian that crosses the most land intersect in two places on the earth, one in the ocean and the other at the Great Pyramid.

The four faces of the pyramid are slightly concave, the only pyramid to have been built this way.

The centers of the four sides are indented with an extraordinary degree of precision forming the only 8 sided pyramid; this effect is not visible from the ground or from a distance but only from the air, and then only under the proper lighting conditions. This phenomenon is only detectable from the air at dawn and sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes, when the sun casts shadows on the pyramid.

The granite coffer in the “King’s Chamber” is too big to fit through the passages and so it must have been put in place during construction.

The coffer was made out of a block of solid granite. This would have required bronze saws 8-9 ft. long set with teeth of sapphires. Hollowing out of the interior would require tubular drills of the same material applied with a tremendous vertical force.
Microscopic analysis of the coffer reveals that it was made with a fixed point drill that used hard jewel bits and a drilling force of 2 tons.

The Great Pyramid had a swivel door entrance at one time. Swivel doors were found in only two other pyramids: Khufu’s father and grandfather, Sneferu and Huni, respectively.

It is reported that when the pyramid was first broken into that the swivel door, weighing some 20 tons, was so well balanced that it could be opened by pushing out from the inside with only minimal force, but when closed, was so perfect a fit that it could scarcely be detected and there was not enough crack or crevice around the edges to gain a grasp from the outside.

With the mantle in place, the Great Pyramid could be seen from the mountains in Israel and probably the moon as well.

The weight of the pyramid is estimated at 5,955,000 tons. Multiplied by 10^8 gives a reasonable estimate of the earth’s mass.
The Descending Passage pointed to the pole star Alpha Draconis, circa 2170-2144 BCE. This was the North Star at that point in time. No other star has aligned with the passage since then.

The southern shaft in the King’s Chamber pointed to the star Al Nitak (Zeta Orionis) in the constellation Orion, circa 2450 BCE The Orion constellation was associated with the Egyptian god Osiris. No other star aligned with this shaft during that time in history.

Sun’s Radius: Twice the perimeter of the bottom of the granite coffer times 10^8 is the sun’s mean radius. [270.45378502 Pyramid Inches* 10^8 = 427,316 miles].

The curvature designed into the faces of the pyramid exactly matches the radius of the earth.
Khufu’s pyramid, known as the great pyramid of Giza, is the oldest and largest, rising at 481 feet (146 meters). Archeologists say it was the tallest structure in the world for about 3, 800 years.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

'First trial' over destruction of cultural value begins at International Criminal Court

Remember the destruction of UNESCO World Heritage site at Timbuktu, Mali, in 2012 during the insurgency? Yes, that desttruction, which claimed historical monuments and buildings of religious significance, including nine mausoleums and a mosque is being revisted as a war crime at International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

BandarinTimbuktu, Mali, PIC C/O UNESCO.

 Specifically, the suspected destroyer, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was yesterday, Tuesday, charged for alleged war crimes and the destruction of heritage sites. The case marked a first time at an international tribunal court involving a trial for the destruction of historic monuments and buildings.
   UNESCO, in a statement, argues that the trial is a strong message on the determination of the international community to ensure that this type of crime is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, not only in Mali but everywhere in the World. The guilty plea and the apologies of the defendant can also open a door for reconciliation and truth for the Malian people.
 The trial marks a new step in the full recognition of deliberate destruction of heritage as war crimes, after decades of efforts by UNESCO and by the international community, notably since the destruction of the Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia and of the Old Bridge of Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which strengthened the legal basis and global awareness that no such crime should remain unpunished.
  This is also a decisive step in recognizing that the protection of culture is a major peace and security issue, inseparable from the protection of human lives, for which UNESCO has advocated and worked with the Security Council of the United Nations over recent years. Attacks against cultural heritage are on the frontline of conflicts today, in a strategy of cultural cleansing where individuals are killed and persecuted on religious and cultural grounds, and cultural institutions are destroyed, including monuments, schools, places of knowledge and media professionals, in an attempt to eradicate free thinking and weaken social cohesion over the very long term. This tactic of war calls for an appropriate legal and judicial response, and we have a responsibility to create a pattern of accountability for such crimes.
UNESCO has immediately raised the alarm after the destruction of the first Mausoleum in 2012 and brought it to the attention of the Court. UNESCO remains fully mobilized in the comprehensive and fair analysis of this specific case and will spare no effort to support the work of the ICC and prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, in full respect of its mandate and competence.
  UNESCO renews also its full support to the people and government of Mali, and in particular to the local communities of Timbuktu, who have shown immense courage and determination to rebuild their Heritage, with the support of the international community. UNESCO remains committed to respond to the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage by all appropriate means, in court and on the ground, to preserve cultural diversity and human rights as the lasting foundation of peace.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

American Experience For Nigeria’s Harmattan Workshop

By Tajudeen Sowole

AS contemporary contents keep collapsing barriers across cultures, the informal art skill acquisition space appears to be falling in line, just as building community interest is also taking priority.
Founder, Harmattan Workshop, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya; Director, Haystack Mountain School of Craft, Paul Sacaridiz; and Harmattan Director, Mr. Sam Ovraiti at Haystack Summer 2016 conference

Stressing these factors, for example, was a recent venture of master printmaker, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya, who took his 18-years experience of organising local art workshops to a conference in the U.S. The event themed ‘Craft Thinking: Ideas on Making, Materials, and Creative Process,’ was held at Haystak’s Summer Conference 2016, a convergence of professionals for exchange of ideas.
Onobrakpeya, founder of Nigeria's oldest informal art gathering, Harmattan Workshop, is currently back home and steering the 18th edition's second section, which holds at Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. The workshop is a reference point in informal art education, within Nigeria and abroad.
 On his return from Haystack Mountain Summer Conference, in Maine, U.S, with the director of Harmattan Workshop, Sam Ovraiti, the octogenarian disclosed the mission of their visit and shared his experience. The 2016 edition of Haystack Summer Conference, he recalled, was not the first time for him, having experienced it in 1975. In fact, Haystack, Dr. Onobrakpeya explained, added to the factors that inspired his founding of Harmattan Workshop.
 The goals of revisiting Haystack, he stated, were "to get more ideas about informal art education as well as to boost the prospects of Harmattan Workshop." Informal gatherings, across cultures, are not without some issues to contend with. For Haystack, "apprenticeship and internship," as well as the incursion of "digital technology into art" according to the master printmaker, were two crucial areas focused by the workshop.     
  If anyone was still in doubt of the blurring lines between art and craft, courtesy of contemporary contents, Haystack appeared to have confirmed such. Mr. Ovraiti, who has been directing activities at Harmattan Workshop since 2011 could not hide his excitement about what he described as merging of art and craft. "For example, painting and sculpture were no longer the traditional way; lot of exciting changes." He noted that the resource persons at the Haystack event "are artists who came to share the craft in their art," particularly enphasising the state of craft currently and in the future.
  More importantly, the gains of the Haystack experience for Ovraiti, is the community value that informal art and craft education brings. Hoping that such value would be stressed at subsequent Harmatran workshop, Ovraiti added, "We need to use our art and craft more for our community than before."
 The community factor, according to Dr. Onobrakpeya, is not exactly new to Harmattan Workshop. He stressed that since the event started almost 20 years ago, the people of Agbarha-Otor have been beneficiaries, particularly in mentorship and apprenticeship.
  "Dr. Bruce has always been preaching the relevance of art in affecting the community," Ovraiti added, but with the Haystack experience, the emphasis, he stated, should be stepped up to include "using art and craft to solve problems."
  Beyond art and craft, Haystack, Onobrakpeya has used the yearly summer gathering tolift the place into a national heritage site in the U.S. "Whether the event holds or not, Haystack is recognised by the U.S. government as a heritage."
  More importantly, Onobrakpeya is hoping that the recognition given to Haystack by including it in the academic programme of some select universities and colleges would be done in Nigeria with Harmattan workshop. He, however, recalled that there was a time Harmattan Workshop used to have similar understanding with some schools in Nigeria. 
  The 2016 Haystack Summer Conference featured professionals from a variety of creative disciplines in art, design, architecture, and writing. It focused on thinking through craft and how creative processes, audiences, and materials informed the works that were made. Excerpt on Haystack's website: Craft is a place where innovation and tradition, skill and intuition, exist together. Whether making a mobile oven for baking bread, rethinking a museum collection, programming machines that can print objects, or choosing to work in vernacular tradition, the very definition and scope of craft is constantly shifting.
  "The conference is intimate in scale and allows ample time for informal conversations with presenters and attendees. Conference presenters give talks and either lead discussion groups or studio based workshops that provide a way of exploring ideas through materials. The workshops and discussions are repeated so that attendees can take part in multiple activities. Registration for these is done each day of the conference and no previous experience is required."

For The Wishing Tree, Art, Technology Meet At Osogbo

Brazilian artist, Prof Paulo Cesar Teles-organised international Art and Multimedia workshop made its Nigeria debut in Osogbo, State of Osun.  The international workshop titled The Wishing Tree, held for four days at the Blue and White Hotel, Oke Onitea, Osogbo.
The Wishing Tree made with recycle mateials.
Coordinated by art instructor Olaniyi Sunday Olaniran and sponsored by Kingdom Kids International Schools and Excellent Schools, all in Osogbo, the workshop ended with a grand finale program and the formation of The Wishing Tree.
According to Olaniran, enthusiasm of the participating children increased daily, during the workshop as they were actively engaged in the distinct experience of the workshop.  "The children built a tree from cheap and discarded products, which were recycled materials available in their local environment," Olaniran stated shortly after workshop. "Pupils and students of both schools wrote and made drawings to express their future wishes."
  Participating students, the coordinator added "amazingly discovered that discarded and recycled materials from the environment, used to produce different things like The Wishing Tree was made by wishes that came true." Some of the drawings prepared by the children, he explained, were submitted, scanned, projected and became interactive to the body movements through ultrasonic sensors placed on the tree.
  Before coming to Nigeria, The Wishing Tree international workshop has previously been held in Brazil, Portugal, Greece, Germany, New Zealand, with Nigeria being the 6th country to take part of it. Teles is moving the workshop to Japan as the next country to visit. “His ultimate objective is to build The Wishing Forest with all other built tree together.”
 Teles explained his vision: My joy in life is to see the multimedia wishes of children all over the world fulfilled in the future. He also said, technology is accessible to everyone and at everywhere and can be harnessed to express art
 The Director of Studies, Solomon Oladapo of Excellent Schools expressed his joy and excitement at the project, which gave children the opportunity to participate in something international like the The Wishing Tree workshop. He added that participating in such a rare event is a great opportunity for his school to prove the commitment to quality learning.
Director of Academics at Kingdom Kids International Schools, Mrs Ifeoluwa Olowoye expressed her overwhelming excitement and satisfaction about the program. She stated that rare art exhibition is in line with the goal of kingdom Kids International Schools, which is to raise future leaders through quality learning in education and character. 
  The self-taught professional visual artist and cartoonist who is also the main host and the facilitator of the event,  Olaniran was lauded for his initiatives that made the Art and Multimedia event a great success. Olaniran was impressed by the large number of children that participated in the project. He said: I will remain committed to promoting arts and cultural values in manners that positively affect lives of participants, the art community and also give great representation of the country to the international community.
  Teles is a Professor in the University of Campinas Brazil.  He graduated in Radio and TV Social communication, Masters in Multimedia, PhD in Communication and Semotics and Post PhD in Educational Communication.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Ebola film, '93 Days', 'The Wedding Party' premiere at Toronto Film Festival

The much-awaited biopic about the dreaded Ebola, 93 Days and another film The Wedding Party have been announced as among works for screening at 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Canada, scheduled for next month.  
Scene from The Wedding Party
Produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters, Dotun Olakurin, Pemon Rami and Steve Gukas...93 Days ...the Ebola movie starring Danny Glover, Bimbo Akintola, Keppy, Gideon Okeke, Tim Reid, Bimbo Manuel makes its world premiere in Toronto ahead of the Lagos, Nigeria cinema release on September 16, 2016.
  The Wedding Party, a Elfike Film Collective "will premiere as Spotlight City to City programme" at the festival.  The premiere is scheduled for Thursday, September 8, 2016 at the historic Elgin Theatre. In its 41st edition, the TIFF runs from the 8th to 18th of September, 2016.
   After a controversial take off, 93 Days, the Ebola movie, directed by Steve Gukas was finally shown at a preview in Lagos few weeks ago.

  Loosely based on the heroic efforts of those behind the halting of the Ebola spread in Nigeria, 93Days, according to the  producers, honours "our gone but never forgotten heroes; we appreciate the living selfless fighters too!"

  Directed by Kemi Adetiba, The Wedding Day, a romcom, stars Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Alibaba, Iretiola Doyle, Banky W, and Adesua Etomi. Some of the stars of the film are expected to attend the premiere.

  “We are pleased to welcome The Wedding Party by award-winning filmmaker Kemi Adetiba to the Festival, and are proud to present it to a global audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. Adetiba has delivered an exciting character-driven film on a grand scale, while putting her own unique spin on a familiar genre.”

  According to Executive Producer, Mo Abudu “This will be the second time an EbonyLife movie is selected to screen at an international film festival of great repute. TIFF’s selection of ‘The Wedding Party’ is a true honour. I can’t think of a better place, or a better global audience for the film’s festival Premiere.”

  Written by playwright Tosin Otudeko and Adetiba, ‘The Wedding Party’ has been described as an "initiative designed to raise the bar in African storytelling through unrivalled technical achievement in filmmaking and creative media arts. Elfike Film Collective is a collaboration of Africa’s leading powerhouses - EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios.

 Set in Lagos, Nigeria, The Wedding Party is the story of Dunni Coker (Adesua Etomi), a 24 year old art gallery owner and only daughter of her parents about to marry the love of her life, IT entrepreneur Dozie (Banky W). The couple took a vow of chastity and is looking forward to a ground-breaking first night together as a married couple.

  Alibaba and Sola Sobowale play the role of Dunni’s parents while Iretiola Doyle and Richard Mofe-Damijo play Dozie’s parents. Other notable names in the stellar cast include Zainab Balogun, AY, Beverly Naya, Emma OhMyGod, Lepacious Bose, Somkele Idhalama, Daniella Brown, Ikechukwu Onunaku, Ayo Makun, Enyinna Nwigwe, Kunle Idowu, Sambasa Nzeribe, Hafiz Oyetoro amongst others.

   The Lagos International Premiere of ‘The Wedding Party’ holds at The Landmark Centre in November 2016.