Giving Life Enhanced Meaning From The Artist Perspective

By Toyin Williamson, The Nigerian Expression (TNE)

The trend of domestic violence usually portrayed the woman at the receiving end but more cases have revealed that such violence is not gender specific.

Such is the case of Bilyamin Bello, son of a former Chairman of a political party, who was stabbed to death in the neck and chest allegedly by his wife, on November 18, 2017, in his sleep. It was gathered that the attack resulted from an allegation of infidelity against Bilyamin by his wife after she saw a text message on his phone.

It was, however, reported that Bilyamin, a real estate developer and businessman, had always complained about his wife’s violent act to some family members and friends. He has since been buried and the case in court.

Another case is that of a female lawyer, Yewande Oyediran, who was in November 2017, sentenced to seven years imprisonment at the Oyo State High Court, in Ibadan, Oyo State, for killing her husband.

Yewande was accused of killing her husband, Lowo, with a knife after a disagreement on February 2, 2016, at their residence in the Akobo area of Ibadan. She also reportedly accused her husband of infidelity.

Other similar cases sparked reactions from people, especially on social media, while some others have chosen to react differently, in their little way.

However, from time immemorial, the artist has been adjudged a great thinker. The diversity of art has made it a beautiful medium of expression and reaching out beyond “art for art’s sake”, but for orderly living.

From combining colours on surfaces to bringing imaginations to more vivid or live forms, what the artists express and aim to achieve through their art, and what the audience perceive becomes part of life’s learning process.

In Nigeria, like most societies, the art, through various forms, has been used to entertain, soothe and relax and, more often, address societal issues.

The media, more days than not, is awash with images that reflect a frightening level of decadence.

Major stories, from terrorism to corruption in government, lead to other issues closer to the home front like domestic violence that could form part of root causes of societal ills.

In 2017, a number of cases of domestic violence were recorded in different parts of the country; Lagos State alone recorded 852 cases from January to December.

Recently, the Australian High Commission in Abuja played host to a theatre company, 2 Masks and a Griot (2MG), that held a play reading entitled “Case File No 5”.

The play involved audience participation and centred on issues of domestic violence, especially looking at the reactions from immediate family members, law enforcement agents and the public being part of the act.

The play, which had the man as the victim of violence that cost his life, had members of the audience act different characters, trying to unravel the issues behind the woman’s action.

The playwright, Rolli Ukwu said the aim of the drama, inspired by the one-act play, “Trifles”, written by American writer Susan Glaspell, is to explore how the society addresses the issue of domestic violence.

“It is after an event has occurred and someone had fallen a victim that we begin to hear different sides of the story.

“The most important thing about the play is its ability to get people thinking and discussing.

“It is about conversations, and if these conversations get to the policy makers where such issues can be addressed, the better for us.”

The participatory method of the play got the audience agreeing that the society has different roles to play in the way relationships at all levels are handled and in how it responds to issues.

In his opinion, Australian High Commissioner, Paul Lehmann, said the play is a way to challenge thinking as the issues raised are not peculiar to Nigeria alone.

“As a country, we have a lot to learn about this situation from Nigeria, as Nigeria has a lot to learn from us.

“We are all in this together. For me, this has been a very powerful moment using art to challenge our thinking, and to think about our own assumptions in the way we live and work, or act within us.”

On using art to challenge the thinking of individuals, another art exhibition on cross-cultural expression tagged “Fusion”, was recently held in Abuja.

The artists, Imal Silva and Dipo Agboola say Fusion explores cross-cultural experiences of Nigerians as a platform to discuss freely relevant subjects that society makes them uncomfortable to talk about, using the arts as a means of expression.

Silva, who is also a businessman, thinks that occurrences in the world are perpetrated by people who lack exposure to the cross-cultural experience.

The Sri Lankan artist who has lived 36 years of his life in Nigeria, believes the benefits of such experiences which require individuals becoming a part of wherever they live and exist, is the truth to ensuring peaceful co-existence amongst people.

Agboola, through his painting, says experiences can shape individuals to become better versions of themselves.

He is of the opinion that individuals do not let experiences affect them negatively, “rather let it evolve to bring out the best in you”, he adds.

With artists taking on a different perceptive of the purpose of art, there is underestimating the influence of this diverse subject in shaping our society. The artist, however, sets the agenda for the society to think about as well as to challenge our ways of life for a better and more orderly environment.


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