Wana Udobang’s Dirty Laundry on display in Lagos

Poet and performer, Wana Udobang, will present her first mixed media exhibition titled Dirty Laundry in collaboration with Ford Foundation.

The installation opens to the public from April 28 to 30. The travelling show will hold in three cities across Nigeria to celebrate this year’s women’s month and 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. The first such exhibition is at Whitespace Ikoyi, Lagos.

This installation is an immersive experience interconnecting personal narratives, histories, experiences, and imaginaries as a form of catharsis for the poet and the viewer.

Featuring poems screen printed on canvas hanging from laundry lines, the installation will also include, thought-provoking performances that explore issues around womanhood, sexual and gender violence, feminine agency, healing, and reimagination.

The hanging poems tell many personal stories for the viewer to experience while walking through the space, a physical representation of the metaphor “hanging your dirty laundry in public.”

The event will be accompanied by talk presentations and online discussions on the role of art in social justice movements or activism that seeks to create change.

Udobang said in a statement, “every day, we see how our cultures and societies repress the voices of women and girls. We continue to lose women and girls to sexual and intimate partner violence. I believe in Nina Simone’s statement that ‘an artist must reflect the times.’ As an artist, I hope this exhibition is not only documenting and reflecting the insidious ways that women are violated in both our domestic and public lives but that it shows the ways we utilise imagination to heal.”

In society, ‘to wash one’s dirty laundry in public is often used concerning shame. In this case, however, the poet subverts the narrative, creating a platform for difficult discussions.

At the core of this work is the power of words to cut through the silence and shame that human beings carry from experiences that have often been inflicted by society and its inherent and harmful culture of silence.

Udobang, who shuttles between Lagos and London, has released three spoken-word albums titled, Dirty Laundry, In Memory of Forgetting and Transcendence. Her work as a performer has taken her across Africa, Europe and the US, along with working on commissions for Edinburgh International Festival and Deutsches Museum in Germany, and others.

In 2021, she was awarded the International Writing programme residency at the University of Iowa.


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