Artist presents naked body as provocative tool

by • May 8, 2016 • FeaturedArticle, NewsComments (8)3427

By John Owoo
(At large in Kumasi)

A recent work by the Ghanaian performance artist Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT) that made the familiar intensely political and the peculiar eccentric ended recently in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi.

Tapping deep into potentially traumatic subjects, Fiatsi exploits the “aesthetics” of human rights violations, sexism, gender violence, political injustice, xenophobia and religious extremism as a social process within the global community and powerfully comments on them.

Using his naked body alongside braided hair and painted nails, the artist lays motionless on a mounted table covered in red and white sheets splashed with his own blood. In the midst of an eerie silence, he engages the audience with conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination as well as provocation and irritation.

Merging iconographic imageries of funerary rituals with an appropriation of the last supper from the Bible, the performance made bold comments on “pleasuring and commodification” of marginalised citizens while showing then off as victims of “freak shows”.

Fiatsi sought to re-examine the paradoxical relationship between human rights and international political structures that claim to protect marginalised individuals and groups – and he largely succeeds as he challenges the vision of the world while exposing its contradictions and complexities.

Through a multi layered performance that lasted five hours, Fiatsi managed to reduce the human body to an exotic product as though to be bargained, purchased and consumed. Indeed, he stimulates an open-ended dialogue on degradations of voiceless citizens and violations of human rights by presenting his naked body as a provocative tool.

In a near cryptic performance, Fiasti calls on his audience (who graciously take part) and indeed the world at large, to re-examine the issue of humanity while coolly urging them to see beyond his nakedness and begin a soul-searching exercise.

Currently an MFA student at the College of Art & Design, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi), Fiatsi is a multimedia performance artist. His works investigate the socio-cultural supremacy of dominant groups by questioning the relationship between “right wing” groups and marginalised citizens within “civilised” societies.

He explores the hybridity of forms, spaces and structures as “inherent” components of performance art and therefore decontextualizing the relationship of the human body to society and its normative cultures. Indeed, he perceives the human body as a colony of societal norms, codes, taboos and doctrines striving against oppressive prejudices.

Pictures by Anwar Sadat Mohammed & Justice Amoh

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8 Responses to Artist presents naked body as provocative tool

  1. trish says:

    I need to research and study this art work personally for myself @John Owoo

  2. Phillippa says:

    I am so thankful that there are journalists out there who sincerely support the work of artists and take time to understand and interpret it for the broader public.

  3. Josh says:

    Congrats Vab. This is a powerful statement. #artalive

  4. When the artist becomes his own piece of art and when artistic ‘statements’ are made in the artist’s nudity, I wonder what it is that people take home as so-called lessons from the performance. Thankfully, some people are more discerning and know best from what and where to learn. #TowardsRedeemingArts.

  5. Edmund says:

    Nice work John

  6. RMAU says:

    Between 1976 and 1988 she collaborated with the German-born artist known as Ulay . The performances the pair created during this time often exploited their duality to investigate ideas such as the division between mind and body, nature and culture, active and passive attitudes, and, of course, between male and female.

  7. WomensNews says:

    When Gerome displayed his polychrome sculptures, critics charged that the artist had debased the nude and sculpted naked women instead. His addition of color made the forms so realistic and lifelike that they could no longer be appreciated on an aesthetic level alone. It jarred h-century audiences to see naked figures with painted eyes and colored hair.

  8. I got good info from your blog

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