I Am Bahamian. I Eat Conch Salad, the Bahamas, July 2010

May 2010

…And I am granted the Commonwealth Connections award, and artist award of the commonwealth foundation. Lovely! I look forward to getting involved in many projects in Nassau- Bahamas…getting immersed in the art, the beautiful blue waters and the people.

I will work with Antonius Roberts, and I will base at Popopstudios right amongst many interesting artists.


- Being creative is about finding fresh grounds – the unbeaten path. This is exactly what we seek! This is not about an individual artist, but about the group, and about the Bahamas; and perhaps Africa. We hope the participating artists will continue to grow (collectively or individually) after this project.

The story of I am Bahamian. I eat Conch Salad is being written this week. It grows, and shall come to light by Saturday July the 10th.

Highlight

Then I spend some time researching on this country’s history, politics, and religion. One thing of interest is the discovery that about one score and a half years after the Fall of Columbus, almost the entire population of the native Bahamians was exterminated from the Bahama Islands. Hence, many of the cultural influences that make up the present Bahamas have come from other lands, and blend to form a unique identity; one identity of yet many constituents. What does it imply to be Bahamian? Am I an individual of varying identities, or one, of one identity: the Bahamian identity?

- The whole curiosity in these facts, and its’ significance, makes it become important for me to make, with this Bahamian society- through the artist community in Nassau-, a collaborative intervention of interdisciplinary nature. Coming from Nigeria, I feel some connection with the Bahamas (the places and the people). There is considerable similarity in some aspects of the Bahamian culture when compared to that of Nigeria. I cannot help but wonder if it has something to do with heritage, or with the effects of colonialism?

For one of these reasons, I am then led to compose this collaborative experience with Bahamian artists and designers. It is noteworthy that the creative people participating in this project speak for Bahamians who might feel some sort of kinship to Africa. Therefore this intervention is also a voice from Africa, and on the other hand, a message to Nigeria.

Another reason for choosing to make an artistic statement of this nature is to, through this installation of artworks, present the mixture: Bahamians, a people made up of an incorporation of cultures and races; as is usually said, the melody of Europe and the rhythm of Africa. But what about the Arawak Indians? Hence, this special kind of cohabiting lifestyle and communal accommodation amongst Bahamians becomes quite a striking education for me. I do learn this for my country, but unfortunately, it cannot not be implemented as a law, but is rather a lifestyle to be emulated.

I would like to learn the views of more people from participating artists through their artwork, and from other people through comments. I hope that this process of working might also be cathartic one on a topic such as this. I hope also that the public would find art to spend time with, come to terms with, admire, appreciate, and learn through. I am interested in reflecting on original cultural identities, and in providing a platform for visualising a future where more and more people, as migrants and permanent travelers, are becoming part of original nations, where nations in turn are becoming ‘unoriginal’.

Is cultural identity still determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition? Perhaps it is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct that an individual can determine or change.

In my home country Nigeria, this reflection on sustainable cultural dialogue should begin to pose questions as well as find answers.

This intervention presents a body of work to be exhibited in Nassau, an art experience for everyone, rather than a solo exhibition of my work. I believe this method of working supports participation and encourages sharing of ideas and knowledge.

I am interested in exploring fresh challenge, whilst looking to bring to the fore the feelings and voices of Bahamian artists: some of who have spoken a language I understand and through whose works I can feel some connection.

Each artist is acknowledged, where their ideas on the project is discussed and documented in exhibition accompanying texts and publicity materials.