Masquerades - the costumes, songs, poetry, dance, proverbs and other displays that accompany their performances, embody the essence of Igbo culture, history and civilization. Masquerades themselves are complex beings embodying Igbo performative art, knowledge systems and the sublime existence between the worlds of the spirits and the living.
In pre-colonial Igbo communities, masks and masquerades helped to maintain balance and order by fighting crimes, enforcing laws, instilling values and administering justice.
As a way of reviving interest in Igbo culture, preserving the art form and situating them in modernity, the Centre for Memories is curating the art of Chuma Anagbado in an exhibition titled; MMỤỌ. Mmuo, which translates to ‘spirit’ forms an apt theme for this month-long Solo Contemporary Art Exhibition on Igbo Masquerading, Spirituality, Performance & Visual Resonance. It is a presentation of multi-sensorial aspects of Igbo masquerading - movement, sounds, materials, masks and scent.
Since her inception, CFM has collaborated with museums, memory centers, and artists from across the globe to design and implement world-class exhibitions with audio, visual, and interactive sections, which informs, inspires and transforms our visitors, ensuring that they share their experiences and keep coming back.
Between 2017 and now, the Centre for Memories held 5 major exhibitions cutting across different themes and showcasing diverse Igbo art forms and culture. The exhibitions are as follows:
Our first exhibition titled Ola Ndigbo: Igbo Contributions to the World focused on notable Igbo personalities with note-worthy achievements in their respective fields, from academia to science, politics, writing, etc. It featured personalities like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, Akanu Ibiam, Chinua Achebe, Pius and Christopher Okigbo, Mike Ejeagha, Chike Obi and so many more. This exhibition lasted for a year, between December 2017 and December 2018, and attracted over 1000 guests
In December 2018, the Centre collaborated with Clifford Nwana, a professor of Fine and Applied Arts from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka to resuscitate and showcase one of the dying technologies of Ndigbo- blacksmithing. This exhibition was themed: Exposition of Aesthetic Sculptural Smithing and Positioning its Itineration Potentials. The month-long exhibition drew over 500 individual guests and groups, all lovers of Igbo artistry.
The year 2019 began on an inspiring note with the unveiling of a powerful and creatively artistic exhibition tagged Ife Eji Abu Igbo: Reviving the Lost Technologies and Innovations of Ndigbo, to celebrate and rekindle interest in some of the technologies of the past. It featured such unifying Igbo technologies as Cloth Weaving works from different parts of Alaigbo like Akwaete in Abia State, Aniocha in Delta State, Nsukka in Enugu State etc, Woodcarving mostly from Awka in Anambra State, Blacksmithing, also from Awka, Iron Smelting from Lejja in present-day Nsukka, Uli (decorative) Art from all parts of Igboland, Pottery making from Afikpo in Ebonyi State and Awkunanaw in Enugu State, Bronze work from Igbo-Ukwu, Stoneworks from different parts of Alaigbo, Basket making from Mgbidi in Imo State and Amokwe in Enugu State, among others.
This year-long exhibition lasted from January 2019 to December 2019, except in September 2019 when the Centre held a different exhibition on Abiriba culture.
Centre for Memories in collaboration with Philips Akwari, an artist and photographer hosted a month-long exhibition themed: The Rich Abiriba Heritage. The exhibition sought to showcase the diversely rich and interesting culture of the Abiriba people of Abia State- their people, foods, dressing, dance, festivals, history, and the entirety of their customs and traditions. It attracted over 2000 guests, comprising of schools on excursion, groups from different parts of the country, and even the Diaspora and individual visitors.
The Biafra War which lasted between May 30, 1967, and 15th January 1970 and in which over 2 million Igbos lost their lives to guns, hunger and deprivation and an even greater number displaced from their homes, is the most significant event in the history of Eastern Nigeria, superseding even the colonial invasions. Exactly fifty years after the end of the war, the Centre for Memories opened Ozo Emena (Never Again), a powerful and touching exhibition of photos, documentary archives and other significant memorabilia from the war, providing the platform to share collective and individual memories of the war.
The exhibition explores the major thematic narratives of the war history: the events before the war and the declaration of Biafra; the invasion of Biafra by Federal troops and the subsequent three-year-long warfare; the displacement and starvation of Biafra families and the Biafra airlift; the creativity of the Biafrans in their efforts to sustain the war and the international responses and reactions to the war. Also included in the exhibition are artworks inspired by the Biafra war history.
It is an exhibition that hopes to inspire deep reflections from the visitors - on the reasons and costs of the conflicts, legacies and lessons learnt, while at the same time celebrating the creative ingenuity and resilience of the people of former Eastern Nigeria over the 30 months war period.
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