Art and Creatives industry were massively affected by COVID crisis, and art industry made efforts to keep things in normality. The answer was SOS digitalisation. In Nigeria, during the crisis, the first 3D exhibition took place, and it was brilliant. TechVangArt discussed with the curator of the exhibition about digitalisation, visual art in Nigeria, and future plans.
TechVangArt(TVA): COVID19 affected people in an unprecedented way, how is the situation in Nigeria at the moment?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Covid-19 hit the Nigerian Economy like the rest of the world, that is why the government took a serious measure to implement a lockdown in Nigeria, effective 11:00pm on the 29th of March 2020. Prior to the lockdown Nigeria had recorded 131 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 2 deaths according to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC). With a phased easing of the lockdown, Nigeria as at May 29th still has over 6000 active cases, 259 deaths and 2592 recoveries.
TechVangArt(TVA): What is the situation of artists, in which way the local art scene was affected?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Given the effects of the Pandemic in Nigeria, social distancing has been the order of the day. Art gatherings, exhibitions, museums, art seminars, as well as studio workshops have either been put on hold or suspended indefinitely. This measure was taken to curtail the spread of the virus. The situation for artists at this point is that their creativity hasn’t been held back. So even in the comfort of their homes, artists have been inspired to produce works that depict this era. For some artists, being alone has been a form of inspiration to reflect and produce works that are of deep concern to them.
Many visual artists around the globe, explored the way COVID affected them and their local communities. From works dealing with loneliness and isolation, to works dealing with the problems revealed by COVID in our society’s functioning, to encouraging messages for essential workers, artists already address quite a lot of issues.
TechVangArt(TVA): What are the most prominent themes and issues explored by the artist in the current exhibition?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: The Vilsquare virtual exhibition with the theme, “Exploring Covid-19 through the Lens of Art” seeks to inform the public on the issues surrounding the pandemic; celebrate the spirit of resilience as a people and inspire a sense of hope and restoration in the audience. The pieces displayed by the different artists cover a range of mediums, styles and themes. The prominent themes in the exhibition were;
1. Depression which comes from various reasons such as being locked down with a violent partner in the home, scarce resources due to low or non-existent earnings, restrictions in movement.
2. Hope, which comes from love and the togetherness of family
3. Homelessness, as experienced by the “Almajiri” children of northern Nigeria
4. Masks, which is a common element of survival at a time like this.
TechVangArt(TVA): Curators, museums or galleries around the world were taken by surprise, and it revealed the rather low interest of the art world in the digitalization. How is the situation in your country?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: The current situation revealed the low interest in the digitalization of art in Nigeria as well, this is because in Nigeria not much provisions had not been made to digitalize works. With galleries, museums and curations on hold in Nigeria, art digitalization has been on the rise, a slow rise but a rise nonetheless.
TechVangArt(TVA):You have set up the First 3D Virtual Arts Exhibition hosted on African Soil, how was the whole process for you?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: This wouldn’t have been actualized without the technological input from Vilsquare. They listened to my idea of an online exhibition and transformed it – providing project management, graphics design, social media management and engineering development. The process was extremely tasking and very different from what I am used to. I had been working on just physical works and had never done one online before. It was a whole new learning experience for me, and it helped me see that there are so many ways in which art can and should be enjoyed, I look forward to more ways in which Art and Technology can bring out the best in both worlds.
TechVangArt(TVA): How did the art scene react to the idea of a virtual exhibition?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: This was new to the exhibiting artists as they did not know what to expect and how their works would be displayed. The prominent question prior to the exhibition, was what it was going to look like. Everyone waited in anticipation and we were in awe of what Vilsquare came up with.
TechVangArt(TVA):Before “Covid-era” what was the relation between technology and artistic production, if any at all?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Before the Covid-era, technology had played a great role in making art production easy. Technological tools that have aided art productions include compressors, welding machines, angle grinders, drilling machines, just to mention a few. More recently, technology has been employed in digital paintings, where tabs are used for painting and drawing. Others are some techniques and methods used to alter traditional artworks to achieve better results as commonly seen in photo manipulation. 3D printers have also aided sculptors print their works in the round.
TechVangArt(TVA):What about the future? Do you think that digitalization will be more prominent in the art scene? If, yes, in what way?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Yes. Digitalization will become more prominent in arts as a way for artists to reach more people. We are all connected, and people still depend on each other – Technology is the only platform that can aid this connection. For Art to survive, it has to adapt to the situation and realities of this time. We must think differently and this would mean that art scenes have to annex the opportunities of digital platforms.
TechVangArt(TVA):You are both curator and artist, what topics inspire you? (From searching your Facebook and Instagram profile, I saw that death is an important topic, or I am mistaken?)
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Death is one thing that is inevitable to humans. A lot of things inspire me – matters that bring concern and question our existence, the nothingness of existence and its futility. One thing that has been prominent for me in all I do is to leave a legacy even after death. Other things that inspire me are things that are linked with, societal injustice, oppression, segregation and femininity.
TechVangArt(TVA): Do you think that artists will use more technology in the future?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: Yes, I believe artists will use more technology in the future. I strongly believe that more tools would be developed by the technological sectors and companies to aid art in the nearest future.
TechVangArt(TVA): What technology should have to be more appealing to the art-world?
Yemisi Ola-Afolayan: The technologies that would be appealing to the art world are definitely those that solve specific problems met by artists or technologies that make art production easier.
Artist who participate in the First 3D Exhibition
Baba Shabu, Dr. Otonye Bille Ayodele, Eric Gugua, Olachi Opara, Uche Uguru, Godwin Tom Sunday, Olamide Agunbiade, Olatoye David Babatunde, Bashir Kabir, Joy Iorvihi, Mofoluso Eludire, Ifeoluwa Alade, Prosper Shittu, Onome Olotu, Ezekiel Afolayan, Taiwo Adebayo, Nissi Odewumi, Olalekan Adeyemi, Chidimma Ikegwuonu, Ifeatu Nnaobi, Odeh-Ifeyinwa Nkem, Yusuf Ayokunle Dongo, Yewande Oseni, Akintayo Ezekiel, Mary Funmi Onidare, Michael Khateli Auna and Yemisi Ola-Afolayan