With Johannesburg-based curator Kabelo Malatsie at the helm of the third edition of Art Dubai Residents, six African artists were due to exhibit under a theme of “Internal logic” prior to the shuttering of numerous public events across the UAE due to COVID-10.
Despite the lack of a physical show, the works of Longinos Nagila, an experimental multimedia artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, were completed and engage technology and found objects to investigate the human condition and the implications of modernity.
“Having the opportunity to make work out of my normal geographical space means that I have freedom to try new things,” Nagila told Arab News of her time working in Dubai. “It exposes you to a different kind of audience, who come with different knowledge.” Focused on using art as a tool of communication, he explained that the key to an artwork is not the piece itself, rather, the dialogue and relationship between artist, work and audience. “I can reach out more when I bring objects together,” said Nagila. “Objects have their own limitations, leading me to use mediums like film, video installation or photography, but the presentation gives them new life.”
Nagila’s playful approach to producing his contemplative “immersions of representational aspects of objects” begs the viewer to be mindfully explorative. “I work with subjects that affect human beings in contemporary times,” he remarked. “I’ve worked with fashion, migration, identity, and for a time I put my focus on art itself, exploring what is or is not art. But for this residency, I looked toward capitalism, products that have been branded as symbols of consumerism and its trappings on society at large.” An inescapable reality, consumerism exists hand-in-hand with life today and “as the world becomes larger, turning into a global village, consumerism and capitalism uses that as an advantage,” asserted Nagila, lamenting that upon picking up a bird’s nest, he found part of it had been woven with a Cadbury chocolate wrapper. “It’s becoming part of the ecosystem, not just through what we consume, but even the remnants, the footprints of products and packaging.”
Using non-traditional materials, the works tackle urgent issues with unavoidable first-hand confrontation. “It doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for traditional materials, but I feel other materials work better because when I look at a painting, it’s trying to create an illusion of space,” indicates Nagila. “Objects that people have used and have had meaning in their lives are more powerful and communicative. So why should I fake it when I have the real thing?”
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