Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Art Of Wolof/Jollof by Folakunle Oshun: Part 2

This exhibition which I had blogged about earlier here, was truly a distinctive one for me as it was the first time I had been to an art installation with such a unique focus on food. The opening day offered a glimpse of what to expect in the preceding days.


"Taxi" - the sound installation

Chalk inscriptions of the artworks' names were written on the ground around the different parts of the installation which I believe, served to guide visitors and provide commentary on the meaning of each part/area.

At the "Taxi" stop

Its important to note that this was a multi-media installation.
The pots pictured above, were engraved with the names of eleven (11) West-African countries and their capitals. They were also a sound installation, named "Taxi"  with the pots meant to give sounds/echoes from the several West-African countries. (1)

The British flag, "Union Jack" was painted on a large pot filled with Nigerian and Senegalese spices used to make Jollof.

The inscription "Mama Charlie" (a reference to Elizabeth II perhaps?)

A visitor to the exhibition taking a snapshot of the flag


Forty (40) wheeled pots illustrating the migratory journey of this popular dish.
Also, the large pot was meant to show two video clips shot during the artist's residency at WAAW, Senegal (2). There were technical issues that prevented the video from playing when I visited so I was unable to watch the video, however it would have been interesting to watch. 

"Opeyemi Balogun"

The hostel room of a friend from the artist's university days was recreated a part of the installation. It was here that the artist developed his own Jollof rice recipe making use of the ingredients available to him at this time. (3)

The artist Folakunle Oshun speaking with visitors at the exhibition

As I had gone to the exhibition twice, both for the opening and the cook-out, I also took a few pictures and videos on snapchat (snapchat: tfortope) of the food as it was being prepared by chef Ozoz of Kitchen butterfly assisted by the artist himself and a few others. The live cooking was fun to watch (it also increased the anticipation!).

After being all artsy fartsy, we were ready to chow. But fam, the food no wan gree come o. Hence the blurred pictures and snaps below.........

Coconut Jollof rice

Theibou Dienn

My cousin is truly a visionary and I don't appreciate him enough. He basically took one glance at the Theibou Dienn dish as it was being prepared and declared that the coconut jollof rice would be his GOAT for the evening. I on the other hand, was eager for a taste of Senegal (Faat Kine is one of the greatest movies ever!) and wanted to eat the others in small portions in order to ensure my stomach had ample space for "the one". 
The first jollof we were served was the aptly named "hungry man rice" which was tasty and would be familiar to most Nigerians. I was too hungry (pun intended) to stick to my plans and finished my plate. 
The second one aka my cousin's GOAT, was the coconut jollof rice. Only one way to describe it: it was delicious! And timely too, as we were tired and ready to go home. 
We took our Theibou Dienn as a takeaway home. I wanted other people to have a taste in order to ensure that I wasn't biased. My cousin thought it was a decent dish; he had found coconut jollof rice and wasn't about to give another jollof type a place in his heart. The second "judge" liked it; thought it was spiced lightly and enjoyed the vegetables added. I agreed.
However, my favourite was the coconut jollof rice. That sauce we were given along with the jollof, i suspect was what really brought it together taste wise. That, or our hunger. Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time and hope to attend more food events.

Copies of a reading material (written by the curator) was distributed at the entrance which gave exhibition goers a comprehensive insight into what motivated this project and contained detailed explanations regarding the artworks and the history behind the subject matter; an introductory text was also printed on a large board at the entrance (both pictured here). 

Food is always a great way to bring people together. This installation was well thought through and demonstrated how a popular dish, created as a result of colonisation, had become a unifying theme around the region.

(1); (2); (3): SHARED ROOTS: TAH, NA WE GET AM! By Ines Valle


Monday, 14 December 2015

The Art of Wolof/Jollof by Folakunle Oshun: Part 1

An unique exhibition named "Wolof Jollof" by Nigerian sculptor Folakunle Oshun opened at the National museum Onikan, Lagos on Sunday, 6th December. The solo exhibition curated by Ines Valle, was an outdoor food & art (or food as art perhaps?) installation which explored the origin and migratory narrative of Jollof from its birth place in the Jollof Empire (of the Wolof People), Senegambia to its multi, numerous adaptations in different West-African countries.

National Museum Onikan, Lagos

Introductory text by Ines Valle

According to the curator, the blue coloured cooking pots represent the "united nations of Jollof". I looked forward to my second visit in which I further explored the installation in detail.

Intellectual curiosity aside, I was particularly interested in tasting different Jollof cuisines from the various West-African countries as a friend had informed me that live cooking and tastings would be done as part of the installation. As expected, my reaction was:

Imagine everyone's surprise when we discovered that the jollof tasting would be the following Sunday 13, December 2015.

Thankfully, the ticket was valid throughout the duration of the exhibition. On a bright note, we were informed that the cooking would be done by popular food blogger/chef Ozoz of Kitchen Butterfly so I expected some stellar cooking.

Colonisation, migration, self-discovery, youth, cultural and personal identity were themes I discovered during my first visit to the exhibition. I looked forward to more explorations (and delicious tastings) for my next visit which would be discussed in the second part of this series. (P.S. I shared some of the amazing moments at the tasting on my snapchat: tfortope)

The exhibition ends 31, December 2015. Tickets to the exhibition can be purchased either at the venue or online at eventbrite.

I wonder; what themes will you discover?

Correction: December 21, 2015
An earlier version of this post misstated the description of the blue pots as representing the fifteen west African ECOWAS states with a barrier created with sacks of rice illustrating how this unique dish, created as a result of colonisation, has become a unifying theme around the region. The correction description is "The united nations of Jollof".

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