BY OSA AMADI
Consumerism is a well-known ecological problem. It is associated with the throwaway culture of the modern society – a culture that prefers to throw away used objects instead of repairing or recycling them. Consumerism depletes the non-renewable resources of planet earth and therefore detrimental to sustainable development. Olu Amoda is a renowned mixed media artist who uses his art to stem the tide of consumerism and in the process, create greater wealth.
“We speak of consumerism in terms of an economy that is supported by used products, Amoda told Vanguard’s Arts & Reviews last weekend at Art Twenty One, Eko Hotel & Suites, during the solo exhibition of his works created over the past two years and titled index season ii. “Ladipo (Lagos) is not a myth. It is real, and it supports a larger part of our economy. My argument is that products are not completely or fully used before they are discarded.”
Amoda is also enigmatic: “I see myself as a modern day archeologist. But I don’t have to excavate. On the surface I see objects. Every object tells me something about the first user. I am interested in objects that have had contacts with human beings. And by so doing I will be able to use it to either live in the period when the object was created, or use it to navigate the present circumstances. I also pretend to be a forensic artist; that means, it’s like a crime has happened. I don’t interfere with the materials. I want people to have that connection between the first user and the second user,” he said.
Amoda prefers to use discarded rusty nails, metal plates, bolts, pipes, and rods which he welds together to create figures, animals, flora and ambiguous forms. That way, he not only puts those discarded materials to other valuable purposes – more valuable purposes indeed than their initial purposes, considering that some of the artworks he creates out of those materials sell as much as N30 million! He calls this efficient use of used materials ‘repurposing’, not ‘recycling’.
Olu Amoda is also somewhat mischievous in this particular creative scheme. He admits he creates confusion and problems for scientists who engage in validation of artworks through carbon 14 dating. By using objects like used nails from different sources, countries, and dating, the carbon 14 scientists are sent on a wild goose chase!
Among the works exhibited In Index Season ii are different women whose sexy, voluptuous, and exposed bosoms are formed with metals. Most prominent among those erotic figures is the shadowy larger-than-life scale sculpture of Marion Jones, the world champion athlete who was involved in a steroid scandal. Informed sources at the event had put the value of the Marion Jones sculpture at around 30 million naira, while the big metal leaves made with rusty nails were put at between six to ten million naira! There is also a makeshift vehicle created from repurposed canoe and castor, which foreshadows Nigeria’s, and indeed, the world’s turbulent political times.
Olu Amoda graduated from Auchi Polytechnic. He got his MSc. (Fine Arts) from Georgia Southern University, USA. He has participated in numerous prestigious exhibitions in USA, UK, Switzerland, etc. Amoda has taught sculpture and drawing at the School of Arts, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos since 1987. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.