By Prisca Sam-Duru

As part of efforts to tackle issues revolving round gender-based violence, celebrated Nigerian poet, Wana Udobang is set to open her latest exhibition titled, “Dirty Laundry”.

The show which holds from 28th April to 30th April, 2022, at Whitespace Ikoyi, Lagos is in collaboration with Ford Foundation, the global, grant-bestowing philanthropy that works to disrupt inequality in all its forms.

Wana Udobang, the writer, poet, and performer, popularly known as Wana Wana, will be presenting ‘Dirty Laundry’, which is her first mixed media installation, first to art lovers in Lagos between 28th and 30th April, 2022., at Whitespace Ikoyi. The travelling exhibition curated by Naomi Edobor, which is billed to take place in three cities across Nigeria is aimed at celebrating this year’s women’s month and 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

The art installation -‘Dirty Laundry’, therefore, 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 re-imagination. 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 spiced up with talk presentations and online discussions bothering on the role of art in social justice movements or activism that seeks to create change.

 “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 utilize imagination to heal.”, the artist said.

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.

Wana Udobang who is also a storyteller, is based between Lagos and London. She already has to her credit, 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, among others. In 2021 she was awarded the International Writing program residency at the University of IOWA.

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