Wilfred Ukpong: Niger-Delta / Future-Cosmos Curated by Mark Sealy 16th February until the 1st of June, 2024 Autograph Rivington Place London EC2A 3BA, UK
Wilfred Ukpong is an artist who uses Afrofuturism and mysticism to address the environmental degradation and exploitation crisis in the Niger Delta. His work draws from historical and personal archives, ecology politics, and indigenous environmentalism to demonstrate how art can be used as a tool for social empowerment and to confront continued colonial practices.
The Niger Delta was once a major producer of palm oil for British colonizers. It is considered the mainstay of the Nigerian economy because of its large oil reserves and rich biodiversity, which include rivers, mangroves, freshwater forests, and marine estuaries. However, the region has been the centre of environmental and social justice campaigns in recent years due to the pollution caused by significant spills and flares from the oil and gas industry giants.
Ukpong’s works in the exhibition are all set in the Niger Delta, his homeland. He worked with over two hundred young people from marginalized, oil-producing communities to collectively address the historical and environmental issues in the oil-rich region. The resulting photographs and film powerfully reference local rituals, ceremonial motifs, and symbols interwoven into a complex future cosmology.
Through a futuristic lens, Ukpong emphasizes the detrimental impact of extreme extraction on both people and land, highlighting the urgent need to understand this impact. Wilfred Ukpong is a French-Nigerian interdisciplinary artist and researcher. His socially engaged practice uses photography, film, sculpture, performance, and creative workshops to address community issues.
Wilfred Ukpong: Niger-Delta / Future-Cosmos Curated by Mark Sealy opens on the 16th of February until the 1st of June 2024 at Autograph
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