The 12th edition of the Dakar Biennale is currently in progress. All through the next few weeks, an international community of artists will assemble in Dakar to celebrate contemporary African art.
One of the featured art works at the biennale is a stunning installation by Nigerian writer Victor Ehikhamenor titled “The Prayer Room.”
The entire installation is a room covered wall-to wall with a strange artistic script. Utterly mesmerized by images of the room posted on Instagram and hankering for more context on the artwork, I reached out to Ehikhamenor via Facebook, and this is how he described the work.
The Prayer Room is a space where people can come and feel art almost physically, be calm and spend some time to reflect, hence the mirror as part of the installation. I work from a standpoint of history and memory, my inspiration for the prayer room is what we call “okoughele” in Esan, where elders meet and decide on community matters, coronate the village chief and also it is a place where elders pray for individuals and the community every now and then. It should not necessarily be mistaken for a shrine, shrines are different from “elders community room”, usually situated in the middle of the village.
There is something also very literary about the artwork. “The Prayer Room” could very easily be seen as a figure of writing and storytelling. Standing in The Prayer Room is like being embedded in text or encased in writing. Perhaps it’s a new way of reading that lets us “feel [the written work] almost physically].
A really powerful work!
All images taken from Victor Ehikhamenor’s Instagram page.