Sunday, 10 June 2012

Switzerland-based scholar focuses textiles in African art space

As more African artists, home and the Diaspora are using textile to enhance concept and theme, one of the two first set of OYASAF fellowship scholars in 2012, Erin Rice rsearches what she calls The Architecture of Identity: Textiles and Impermanence in the Construction of Art and Space in Nigeria and Ghana.

Erin Rice pictured inside OYASAF garden, in Lagos. PHOTO BY: OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO
She notes that though the technique of using textile is not new, but it's a recent experience for most artists just as the interest is growing. And between style and technique - within modernity and contemporaneity context - Rice argues that "contemporary reflects the time, modern reflects the technique."

Rice is from the doctoral program at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
Before coming to Nigeria on May 31, 2012, her project focused on the works of El Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare and Sokari Douglas Camp, all of whom use or reference textiles in their sculptural work, using themes such as Ghanaian native textile, kente, Dutch Wax Print otherwise known as ankara in Nigeria, and injiri respectively. She examined the relevance of these textiles in the works within the context of the Western art world.

By taking her research to Lagos, she hopes to gain an understanding of how textiles function in everyday life and in contemporary art on a local level, which will add a new, critical dimension to her work.

Her thesis addresses several key questions relevant to Nigeria:

§  What role(s) do textiles play in contemporary Nigerian society?
§  How do textiles symbolize the identity of Nigerian artists when exhibiting abroad?
§  How are artists within Nigeria using textiles? How is their use different from those in Europe and the US?
§  How have textiles shaped the construction of space in the post-Independence era?
§  How can traditional forms of impermanent architecture shed light on newer forms of building?
§  Within the construction of these spaces, how is the identity of the community being addressed or symbolized?

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