June 29th, 2017
Olu Oguibe talks with us about his work for Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel
Tiziana Casapietra: Thank you Olu for accepting my proposal of an on-going diary following your thoughts and intellectual process, reflections and observation while developing your work for Documenta. I would like to start with this first simple question: can you please introduce your work at Documenta?
Olu Oguibe: Sure. I’m almost at the very end of my Documenta journey, though. So, the only way to recover my process at this point is only by retracing it because it began quite a while back; more than a year ago, and Documenta has already long opened in both Athens and Kassel. In fact, in Athens, we’re already discussing the de-install in just over a fortnight from now. Almost everything is already coming to an end, do, there isn’t that much process remaining.
With that said, my last project for Documenta 14, one of three, is a small gathering of individuals currently living in different parts of the world who, however, were directly or indirectly affected as children by the Biafra War back in the late 1960s. This will take place in Athens, Greece this weekend; June 30 and July 1, 2017.
The event complements my other project for Documenta in Athens, which is an archival installation (“Biafra Time Capsule”, 2017) currently on exhibit in the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST). The installation is comprised of my private collection of literature, photographs, vinyl records and other material centered on the defunct Independent Republic of Biafra (1967-1970) and the bitter war which took place between the young nation and Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. I was a child in Biafra, so, it is a critical formative part of my life and those of many other survivors, yet, growing up in the aftermath of the war we had scant access to more detailed information about it beside our own often vague recollections. Our parents did not discuss it because it was a very traumatic experience for them. More than two million people died during the 30-month conflict, and those who survived, lost everything. So, over many years I collected whatever I could by way of related books, papers, bulletins, photographs and ephemera, from magazine articles and scholarly books to trashy action novels by Spanish novelists and memoirs by war generals. Because Documenta 14 coincided with the 50th anniversary of both the founding of Biafra and the beginning of the conflict, I decided to share that material with the public.
More questions and aswers will follow. Stay tuned to follow our conversation in progress with Olu Oguibe.