Through the Young Acquisition initiative, the Museum Ludwig obtains Emeka Ogboh’s multimedia installation Oshodi Stock Exchange.
At a crucial moment for the Museum, Ogboh’s acquisition provides a platform for listening to narratives of migration, politics of race and sonic articulations of capital.
Since its establishment in 2005, the Young Acquisition initiative of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig has sought out diversity: in artist nationality, medium and message. This year’s programme takes this mission to greater depths, acquiring the multimedia installation Oshodi Stock Exchange (2014/2016) by Emeka Ogboh. The acoustic landscape, as it can be more aptly described, will be presented by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst at Art Cologne (18 to 22 April 2018) and more permanently at the Museum, offering a personal and detachedly-digitised portrait of Ogboh’s native Lagos.
The sound installation Oshodi Stock Exchange is part of a site-specifically realised series that acoustically places listeners within Nigeria’s economic realities. Ogboh has developed a soundtrack for the work that layers the voices of Lagos street vendors hawking their wares with piano scores written in collaboration with the composer Kristian Kowatsch. Each stratum offers visitors a rich soundscape that is both escapist and utterly grounded – separate from the here and now of the Museum Ludwig‘s German locale, yet rooted in the familiar atmosphere of economic dealings, or at least a visitor’s preconceived idea of them. The result is a project that, when observed at the quick pace of everyday life, is simply (though deeply complex) noise: a familiar backdrop of voices that is eerily unfamiliar in an exhibition setting.
Oshodi Stock Exchange (2014/2016) reveals the intensity and diversity of Nigeria’s megacity in all its virtually orchestral elements. Upon “entering” Ogboh’s cadmium yellow setting, spectators become immersed in what the artist calls a “social sound sculpture”: a sonic portrait of the Oshodi bus station in Lagos where goods are commonly traded. This, the artist points out, is entirely other from the anonymous, digitised international stock exchange. Ogboh thus succeeds in producing an intimate yet exclusive depiction of Lagos and its systems of internal trade dynamics, juxtaposed with the imagined hustle and bustle of global commerce arenas. Visitors become dissonantly detached within the installation, whereby one’s visual and aural senses are heightened and imagined storylines come into play.
Based between Berlin and Lagos, Ogboh’s career has not shied away from articulating cultural identity in relation to its globalised present. His unique collection of audio installations and poignant projects often explore how private, public and collective histories are translated, mutated and encoded into sound experiences. In 2017 Ogboh’s works were featured in solo exhibitions at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden and The Tanks at Tate Modern. His work was also shown at documenta 14, in Athens and Kassel and the 56th Venice Biennale.
The Young Acquisition project is the brainchild of Yilmaz Dziewior, Director of the Museum Ludwig, and Barbara Engelbach, Curator of Contemporary Art and Media. Between them and the selected board members, the initiative has introduced works representing young generations’ various artistic voices and discusses them from diverse perspectives. Since the project’s formation in 2005, other major acquisitions have included work by Moroccan artist Yto Barrada (2014) and Nairy Baghramian from Iran (2011).
Ogboh’s move into the Museum Ludwig’s permanent collection has instigated new ambitions in the realm of German acquisitions with focus on intangible and encompassing-experience projects. By acquiring an installation of this kind, the Museum Ludwig demonstrates an eager commitment to cross-cultural exchange, and a desire to learn from and work with artists that critically engage with concepts of race, nationality, globalisation and xenophobia. Ogboh’s work offers a jumping off point for the institution; he tells us that when art brushes up against the more nebulous economies of culture and capital, it becomes difficult to listen closely. But the impetus remains, making far more rewarding to try and hear the quiet voices that are passed over time and time again. The Museum’s role is to simply offer itself as a loudspeaker.
‘Oshodi Stock Exchange’ is presented by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst at Art Cologne, Stand B-002 in Hall 11.3, from 18 to 22 April 2018 alongside a more permanent installation on the third floor of the Museum Ludwig, Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Cologne, Germany.
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