Friday, 18 September 2015

Atiku Jelili Shapes The Future of West African Art.

Prince Claus Laureate for Jelili Atiku, others

Prince Claus Laureate for Jelili Atiku, others
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Any artist whose works fail to connect with his society cannot lay claim to be successful even if he rises to be regarded as artist in his field. Atiku Jelili, the outstanding artist is one who understands this maxim and made it guard his long performance art career. He is among 11 recipients chosen from other parts of the world for the 2015 Prince Claus Laureate where 250 people were invited to make nominations. A total of 103 nominations were received and researched by the Bureau. He and others will be decorated with the laureate in a ceremony in December at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam in the presence of members of the Royal Family and an international audience.

Also, the Prince Claus Awards will be presented to the recipients at ceremonies in their respective countries by the Dutch Ambassadors. Atiku will receive the laureate for creating a new artistic language combining Yoruba traditional art forms with international performance practice. Largely known for his prowess in engaging the society with strange costume, sometimes scaring live performance, Atiku constantly put his art at service of the prevailing concerns of times mostly issues that is threat to human existence. He would perform in market place, streets, public space and the likes. His performance ranges from emotional, trauma, climate change, poverty, war among others.

According to a statement from Prince Claus website states: “Jelili Atiku Nigeria, Performance Art (1968, Ejigbo, Lagos) is an imaginative performance artist whose provocative spectacles use striking attire, unsettling body language and unusual props to open up dialogue and influence popular attitudes. He drops himself right into the heart of Lagos, into the realities of the streets, of densely populated, poor areas, and entices people to interact and respond to his visual presentations.”

The release further stated, “Rooted in Yoruba performance traditions, Atiku brings local elements to international performance practice, creating an extraordinary mix of action, symbolism, storytelling, disguise, costume, colour coding and theatricality. A rigorous researcher, his subjects include commentary on Nigerian human rights in the Assassination of a Political Prisoner; politically charged critiques of the ruling class and Boko Haram; site-specific interventions on climate change, e-waste and fuel subsidies; and Araferaku (loosely translated as A Part of Me is Missing), a moving personal eulogy to his father.

“Breaking new ground in contemporary performance art in Nigeria, Atiku’s sustained experimentation is pushing the boundaries of artistic communication and strengthening public understanding, participation and appreciation. He is an inspirational figure for younger generations and a voice of the future. Jelili Atiku is awarded for creating a new artistic language combining Yoruba traditional art forms with international performance practice; for his thought-provoking performances that challenge assumptions and stimulate dialogue in an unconventional and dynamic form of community education; for taking personal and artistic risks in order to open new possibilities and reach wider audiences; and for his pioneering dedication to establishing space for contemporary performance art in Nigeria.”

Atiku expresses his excitement for winning the prestigious laureate. “I feel extreme happy that l am among the recipients of 2015 Prince Claus Laureate and more importantly I feel proud of my culture, the achievements of Yoruba Progenitors and all the people who have contributed to the creative energy of the race, Yoruba and all others tribes in Africa. It is a pride to have been born and living in Lagos, the most populous city in Africa.”

The Cameroonian filmmaker, Jean-Pierre Bekolo is among the recipients. An avant-garde filmmaker and socio-cultural activist to the core, his imaginative work overturns stereotypes of Africa and African cinema.

An advocate of artistic freedom, Bekolo is committed to realising Africa’s philosophies and cultures. He is awarded for his creative resistance, irreverence and eclectic African reworking of dominant cinema conventions; for creating a unique body of innovative work that both entertains and transmits profound socio-political messages; for his highly original aesthetics; for challenging misrepresentations of African cultures; and for re-affirming the power of film.

The Prince Claus Principal award was won by Newsha Tavakolian, from Iran. Tavakolian, is a visual art, photography, Media and Journalism extraordinaire, her work offers a compelling insider’s perspective on contemporary life in Iran and the Middle East.

Putting people at the centre of her practice, she fuses artistic work and documentary reportage to create intimate portraits and unexpected human stories that enable an individual to look deeply inside societies. Fearlessly recording events in often dangerous situations, her photographs have been widely published in international media. When it became difficult to work as a photojournalist in Tehran after the 2009 elections, Tavakolian searched for quieter, more allegorical ways to evoke Iranian realities.

Tavakolian is awarded for her beautiful and moving testimony of the complexities and ambiguities of contemporary Iran; for effectively combining photojournalism and art in a potent visual language; for her commitment to women’s voices and her support of young photographers; for courageously persevering in conveying social and political realities of Iran’s history and culture, providing critical insight; and for evoking human bonds through photography, creating intercultural understanding and compassion. Another recipient is Latif Al-Ani, lraq, whose work provides a unique record of everyday life in Iraq from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Al-Ani is awarded for creating an extraordinarily rich and multi-layered archive of unique historical images of Iraqi society; for providing Iraqis and the world with an essential memory bank that bears witness to the modern, prosperous and forward-looking country Iraq was before the devastation of the Gulf War; and for his leadership in the development of documentary photography in Iraq. Theatre group from Zimbabwe, Amakhosi, is also among the recipient.

The group combines local performance styles incorporating dance, comedy and song with international theatre traditions in their productions. Amakhosi is awarded for its engaging, humorous and perceptive portrayals of the struggles of ordinary people; for mentoring and supporting critical voices and empowering people to shape their own future; for extraordinary resilience in upholding the value of art in society; for putting the needs of the community at the heart of their activities; and for creating courage, reflection and laughter in a difficult context.

Other recipients include Etcetera, Argentina/Chile; Perhat Khaliq, China; Fatos Lubonja, Albania; Ossama Mohammed, Syria; Oksana Shatalova, Kazakhstan and Y’en a Marre, Senegal. The Prince Claus Awards honour outstanding achievements in the field of culture and development. The awards are presented annually to individuals, groups and organisations whose cultural actions have a positive impact on the development of their societies.

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