Writer, poet and performer Wana Udobang, will present her first mixed media installation titled ‘Dirty Laundry’ from April 28 to 30 at Whitespace, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In collaboration with the Ford Foundation, the travelling show will start in Lagos before moving to two other Nigerian cities to celebrate the 2022 women’s month and 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. It will open from 12 noon to 6 pm daily.
According to a statement, the installation “is an immersive experience interconnecting personal narratives, histories, experiences, and imaginaries as a form of catharsis for the poet and the viewer.”
It features poems screen printed on canvas hanging from laundry lines and includes 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.
Commenting, the artist based in Lagos and London said, “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 not only documents and reflects the insidious ways that women are violated in both our domestic and public lives but also shows the ways we utilize imagination to heal.”
In our 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 we carry from experiences that have often been inflicted by society and its inherent and harmful culture of silence.
Udobang 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. In 2021 she was awarded the International Writing program residency at the University of Iowa.