Onikan, Lagos—it is not every day that we encounter images powerful enough to make us evaluate the state, or the future of our nation. An exhibition of four installations and art works by Ndidi Dike, open to the public from the 6-8th February 2016 at the National Museum, captioned State of the Nation, forces us to stand and think about Nigeria, about the things happening now, about how unoriginal they are, and perhaps, about why they happening at all.
Ms. Ndidi Dike is one of Nigeria leading visual artist working in sculpture and mix-media painting. For the inspiration for State of the Nation exhibition, she says, ‘‘the idea was probably subconsciously gestating in my mind for years but most recently manifested itself in my identification, selection, and employment of objects as material metaphor for firstly power, petroleum, and politics’’.
Upon entry into National Museum exhibition room, the viewer is confronted by a double metal bunk, the kind common in secondary school hostels across Nigeria. Beneath the bunk are clusters and clusters of slippers in different states of use, facing inwards, indicating perhaps that their owners have just performed the routine act of taking them off, climbing the bed and retiring for the day, full of dreams and free of teenage concerns. But the bed is empty. The viewer is disconcerted by this eerie emptiness, and asks another, what does this mean? ‘I know this one’, is the ready answer, ‘it represents the Chibok Girls’.
To the left of this bunk, is a relief sculpture of kerosene stoves. Blocks and squares of Made in China stoves intertwined, their green colour polished and gleaming on the wall, tasking you—please decipher me?
The Power Grid is the next sculpture, and aids in the deciphering. Think of all the metallic objects we need for daily consumption of energy in Nigeria. Power Grid, a relief sculpture, is a network of petrol nozzles, motor cycle tanks, generator parts, kerosene stoves and lamps, kettles, funnels. This sculpture undoubtedly forces you think of our national power grid, of why we Never Expect Power Always.
Finally, in an adjacent room, dimly lit, there is a wheelchair. In the wheelchair is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Is our constitution lame? Is that why we in this state? Would we walk again? It is not every day that we encounter images powerful enough to make us evaluate the state of our nation, but Ms Ndidi Dike’s art works and installation have such demotic utility that they remind us that we ought to, daily.
More Pictures from the Exhibition;