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"Statues Also Breathe": The Collaborative Exhibition That Shines a Light on the Missing Chibok Girls

Using Art as a Tool for Activism

"Tales not passed on are like echoes in the wind, quickly fading away." This African adage holds true in many aspects of life, especially when it comes to art and its ability to preserve stories and memories for generations to come. The recent art exhibition titled "Statues Also Breathe" at Art Twenty One in Lagos, Nigeria, is a powerful testament to this idea.

The "Statues Also Breathe" exhibition was a powerful and thought-provoking collaboration between French multidisciplinary artist Prune Nourry, the Department of Fine & Applied Arts at Obafemi-Awolowo University, and the families of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014. The exhibition, which was unveiled on November 19th, 2022 at Art Twenty One in Lagos, Nigeria, aimed to raise awareness about the plight of the missing girls. The exhibition was a captivating display of 108 artworks, each crafted with precision and care by female potters from a community in Ilorin using clay sourced from the historic town of 'Ile-Ife'. The art pieces, inspired by the iconic 'Ifé' Terracotta heads, served as a haunting reminder of the ongoing struggle for girls' education and the search for the missing Chibok girls.

Installation Shot of Terracotta Heads | Art Twenty One Gallery, Lagos Nigeria

Prune Nourry's eight sculptures, in particular, stood out as portraits of the missing high school girls, each imbued with the spirit and style of the ancestral 'Ifé' heads of the Yoruba. Through her collaboration with the families of the missing girls, Nourry was able to bring a personal touch to the exhibition, making the fight for girls' education to be seen as not just a global issue, but a deeply personal one.

The "Statues Also Breathe" art exhibition was a triumph of collaboration and creativity. Its display of 108 artworks, was a testament to the transformative power of art. This exhibition was not just a display of talent, but a call to action that will continue to inspire and evoke change long after its conclusion. They were not just objects of beauty but powerful symbols of hope and resilience.

Significantly, the collaboration between Nourry, the students of the Department of Fine & Applied Arts of the Obafemi-Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and the families of the Chibok girls represents a unique collaboration between artists, academic institutions, and communities. This type of collaboration is rare and has the potential to inspire future collaboration between artists, institutions, and communities, leading to the creation of new and impactful African art. In addition, this exhibition challenges the traditional ways of thinking about art and its purpose. It goes beyond mere aesthetics and instead uses art as a means of activism, to raise awareness and spark a conversation about important social issues. This shift in the purpose of art has the potential to inspire other artists to create art that not only looks beautiful but also carries a message and creates a positive impact in society.

Similarly, it challenges traditional ways of thinking about art, highlights the role of women in preserving cultural practices, and emphasises the importance of African art being kept and displayed in Africa. The potential impact of this project is far-reaching and has the power to inspire artists and communities alike to use art as a means of activism. Africa's past must not be untold, else they are lost to the winds of time. If Africa's culture, challenges, experiences, and realities are engraved in arts, then we have successfully preserved our stories.

Source: Art Twenty One Lagos

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"Statues Also Breathe": The Collaborative Exhibition That Shines a Light on the Missing Chibok Girls

November 10, 2022

Sunshine Alaibe

3 min read

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