SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Problems and Prospects of the Igbo Uli Art Idiom in the Igbo Heritage Crisis

Dr Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi

Date: 27 November 2017Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 27 November 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar

Leventis Fellow Dr Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi (University of Nigeria, Nsukka) will present his ongoing research: 'Problems and Prospects of the Igbo Uli Art Idiom in the Igbo Heritage Crisis'

In their various publications on Igbo culture, Simon Ottenberg, Adiele Afigbo, Herbert Cole and Chike Aniakor, and P-J Ezeh make references to “Igbo receptivity”, “resurgence of Igbo arts”, and “Igbo cultural self-hate” in an attempt to describe the wandering of the Igbo cultural attitudes from one level of experience to another. While “receptivity” and “resurgence”  are positively characterised and paint a picture of resilience, “self-hate” describes a postcolonial nihilist tendency that is at work at the heart of Igbo culture today. If art is one major index for expressing and assessing the culture of a people, the Igbo uli art which arguably spans three stages of historical-stylistic development offers a basis on which Igbo culture and heritage can be appreciated and appraised against the issues of receptivity, resurgence and self-hate. While establishing a three-tier historical development trajectory of uli art, this paper critically examines the efforts by artists at re-engaging uli in the last 50 years. Relying on the works of the uli women classicists, the Nsukka artists, and the outcomes of the Art Republic workshops, the paper argues that traditions do not die in a finalist sense, but can degenerate-regenerate as manure that nourish new ideas and paradigms which extend the history and experience of the old. In pursuit of this thesis, some outcomes of the Art Republic workshops are presented as examples of how uli can be re-invented in contemporary art space and society, in spite of the prevailing crisis of heritage in Igbo land.

 All welcome.

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