As part of the exhibition City Life currently showing at De Kerk Museum Arnhem in the Netherlands, Lagos-based artist Abdulrazaq Awofeso presents over 2000 wooden sculptures of human figures. City Life presents problems of urbanization, how artists depict these issues in their work and the important question: “How do you claim and protect your own physical and mental place and at the same time leave room for others?”.
Titled Gross Domestic Populace, the colourful work by Awofeso represents the modern city where people from all walks of life are sharing a relatively small piece of land. At De Kerk, the work is placed on the choir, looking directly at visitors when they come into the exhibition space. The pieces are unique and have various emotional expressions and appearances.
Awofeso lives in Lagos where the population of the city is over 20 million inhabitants. Lagos is the largest city on the African continent and acclaimed as “the fastest-growing metropolis on earth”. Before living in Lagos, Awofeso lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, where xenophobic outbursts of violence against labour migrants from neighbouring African countries occur frequently and are becoming more severe. Not feeling welcome or being called “illegal” in one’s new living environment is an important subject he addresses and simultaneously rejects in his work.
Gross Domestic Populace is a pun on “gross domestic product”. By replacing product with people, Awofeso emphasizes that the world seems to have forgotten what it means to be human. In modern society, everything revolves around production and economic growth, and people are merely statistical entities.
Other artists showing in City Life include Palestinian artist Alaa Albaba living in Ramallah, Stephanie Bakker and Yvonne Brandwijk from the Netherlands, Umut Yasat living in Karlsruhe and Istanbul and Susanne Khalil Yusef from Germany living in Arnhem.
NOTE: City Life is on view from –