From 13 April to 25 May MAA hosted Enotie Ogbebor as an Artist in Residence on the Creative Europe funded TAKING CARE Project. Enotie is a long-time friend of the Museum, having worked closely with the University through the Benin Dialogue Group towards the return of looted artefacts from Benin City to Nigeria. A renowned international artist, his Nosona Studios in Benin City has been a thriving hub where young artists from Edo State and beyond have been mentored, and was the venue for one of the community exhibitions developed through the Re:Entanglements project in 2019.
Enotie’s research with MAA has focused on
themes of cultural and environmental loss and exploitation, which he has
explored in a triptych that traces the evolving relationship between humans,
animals and the environment in his home state. He has been inspired both by the
collections and spaces at MAA where traces of the complex relationship between
people and planet are present yet often hidden, as well as the research that
led to MAA’s recent exhibition on Colour:
Art, Science & Power.
Enotie says that the work, titled ‘From Eden to Ecocide: A Tale of Human Impact’, “traces the prehistoric, historic, colonial and postcolonial linkages that has led to the devastation of the environment using Okomu National Park as a case study while channelling similar circumstances globally.”
The paintings reflect on how such
relationships are concealed and revealed in the museum and elsewhere. It
prompts and demands from the viewer a prolonged and questioning attention that
in turn provokes questions about the displays and the institution as a whole.
The completed artwork was presented to MAA staff at a seminar on Monday 15 May and will be installed in the Museum’s Andrews Gallery, opposite the Benin display, in the summer to coincide with Enotie’s solo exhibition at the British Museum. MAA is grateful to Enotie, the taking Care project, the Cambridge Rivers Project and to Corpus Christi College who hosted Enotie and provided studio space during his time in Cambridge.