Karo Akpokiere on the 20th Sesc Videobrasil Festival
Karo Akpokiere received a diploma in graphic design from the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos in 2006. His work straddles the line between fine art, graphic design and drawing, as well as focuses on fusing experiences and observations from the minutiae of everyday living with particular interest in the visual and written aspects of popular culture. Akpokiere has participated in several significant exhibitions including the 56th Venice Biennale, Old Drawings, Kunsthalle m3, Berlin (2015) Comic-Zeichner Seminar Austtellung at the Comic Salon Erlangen (2014), Another Africa – Contemporary Design in Africa, ULUPUH Gallery, Tkalciceva 14, Zagreb, Croatia (2013), Art Dubai, Markerprogramme (2013), FAX, South London Gallery, London, England, (2011) and the Green Summary Exhibition, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, (2010). In this interview, Akpokiere talks about his upcoming exhibition at the 20th Sesc Videobrasil Contemporary Art Festival.
Congratulations! From over 2,000 artists, you were selected as one of the 50 to exhibit in the forthcoming 20th Sesc Videobrasil Contemporary Art Festival. What are your expectations?
Thank you. In my work, I’m interested in how experiences and observations of everyday life can be fused with my interests in the visual and written aspects of popular culture. I expect that my participation will lead to more room for me to further explore these fusions and how to connect with people who have different life experiences and backgrounds from mine, as I always do.
You will be exhibiting your works titled Zwischen Lagos und Berlin, a walk through the cities of Lagos and Berlin and the social, political and personal experiences one encounters in the process. What is the underlying philosophy in creating this work and what do you hope to achieve with it?
I wanted to create a body of work that represents my experiences and observations moving between the two cities in a way that shows my interest in using the staples of graphic design (text and image) to form narratives that may be fictive and/or non-fictive. Zwischen Lagos und Berlin is essentially about the primal need we have as humans to move from one place to another, to engage with different cultures and attitudes, and most importantly, the beauty you can find in the mundaneness and madness of life.
What can you attribute to the increasing global interest in African art, as well as the rising phenomenon of art festivals all over the world, and how do you think Sesc Videobrasil Contemporary Art Festival fits into the burgeoning global art scene?
Interest and inclusion cannot be separated from the tripartite forces of power, politics and money. I also feel that apart from the altruistic aims of art festivals around the world, festivals engage with these forces at varying levels. Sesc Videobrasil offers a more inclusive and flexible alternative to the predominant European and American platforms, and has been at the forefront of highlighting how the moving image can be firmly situated within the fine art world.
You have achieved international recognition for your work locally and internationally, what will you attribute your rising success to and what advice would you give to emerging artists?
I would say the decisions I have made and the wonderful support system of family and friends that I have.
Navigating your way around the world as an artist is quite similar to taking a walk in the dark and feeling your way through. There will be many doubtful moments, and much uncertainty and confusion as you make the walk. It’s important to keep moving regardless, to have a heart of gratitude, a giving spirit and to be flexible as there is usually more than one way to get a point. In the process of moving, you would learn more about yourself, be more in tune with your interests and probably gain new ones. This heightened awareness, will lead you to make decisions to bring you to places you need to be and people you need to meet. I don’t know…. You will figure out a lot of things on the way.
“Keep exploring, attitudes and necessities always meet up at some point and when they do, people will recognise the potential solutions you propose.” –Ten Tenorio
April 08, 2021