79

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary African Art

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London

Sokari Douglas Camp
B.1958
WAKA SHEGE
steel, aluminium cans, plastic string, feathers and beads
155 by 60 by 54cm., 61 by 23¾ by 21in.
Conceived in 2011, this work is unique
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Exhibited

London, Tiwani Contemporary, It's Personal, 2012
New York City, Stux Gallery, Dressed to the Nines, 2012

Catalogue Note

Born in 1958 in Buguma, Nigeria, a town located in the Niger delta, Sokari Douglas Camp hails from a particularly lush region of the country. Educated at Central Saint Martins and at the Royal Academy of Art in London, Sokari Douglas Camp has represented both Nigeria and the United Kingdom internationally and has partaken in countless exhibitions at prominent locations worldwide, the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian being amongst them. The artist was shortlisted for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth in 2003, and in 2005 Douglas Camp was awarded a CBE for her leadership and dedication to the arts. Today, Douglas Camp lives and works in South London.

Sokari Douglas Camp creates mesmerizing figural works out of welded steel that seem to defy the constraints of their medium and exude a fluidity rarely seen in metal works of this nature. The discovery of oil in Buguma and the resulting exploitation of the Nigerian land and people is a theme that runs throughout much of the artist’s works. Integral to Douglas Camp’s practice is her fundamental belief that contemporary art is too often created based on intangible or imperceptible concepts. Sokari’s work attempts to exist in contrast to this, remaining grounded in tangible and of the moment themes. Her pieces celebrate her heritage whilst commenting on the ongoing hardships and brutal realities experienced by her fellow Nigerians.

Using a mixture of steel, found objects and colourful beading, Sokari Douglas Camp creates a powerful female figure, attempting to ward off any sort of encroachment. According to the artist, Waka Shege ‘is a Northern Nigerian curse word cursing your mother and your father and all that created you. Both these figures are charged with profanity and anger’. When speaking of the present work, Douglas Camp says: ‘it reminds me of Congolese effigy figurines, which symbolise the passing of one's suffering to statues as a way of healing one's ailments. Waka Shege wears beads that women wear to be alluring and hide their faces because they are spirits.  The sculptures are a force to be reckoned with; they will keep bad spirits at bay. Waka Shege is about being menopausal and swearing for a year. My way of curing myself’ (Sokari Douglas Camp, 14 March 2017, Interview).

Modern and Contemporary African Art

|
London