Film Screening, Talk and Reception with Zina Saro-Wiwa

Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, 390 King Street West
3 March 2023
7–9 pm

A screening of Zina Saro-Wiwa’s video-performance Worrying the Mask

Join us at the Isabel for a special film screening of Zina Saro-Wiwa’s video-performance Worrying the Mask: The Politics of Authenticity and Contemporaneity in the Worlds of African Art (2020). Following the screening, Saro-Wiwa takes to the stage with Dr Qanita Lilla, Associate Curator, Arts of Africa for a talk and Q&A.

In Worrying the Mask, Zina Saro-Wiwa questions the authority of the museum and its outmoded colonial practices and shifts the restitution debate into genuinely radical new territory. She exposes the desires and limitations of the storytelling surrounding African traditional objects whether in the country of origin or in the country of display and goes on to ask whether an African object can represent a people at all or if they, in fact, have a life of their own. She suggests that our attempts to understand, explain and truly benefit from these works as a society may require a fundamental ontological shift.

Saro-Wiwa’s film Worrying the Mask is in the collection of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. *The film was shown as an installation at Agnes, 7 August–21 November, curated by Emelie Chhangur.

Zina Saro-Wiwa is a British-Nigerian artist who lives and works between Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, and Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Born in 1976 in the Niger Delta region to a family with roots in Ogoniland, she initially used her art to respond to her family history of activism in the region. Saro-Wiwa works in film and photography but also with sound, food and distillation. After working as a BBC producer, presenter and reporter for more than twelve years she turned her attention to her artistic practice.

Zina Saro-Wiwa is one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Global Thinkers of 2016, recognized for her work in the Niger Delta. In April 2017 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Art. She has given talks and has shown works at biennales, museums and art fairs around the world including Tate Modern, Frieze and Basel Art Fairs and major public sites such as Times Square in Manhattan. Her work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, among others. She recently gave the keynote lecture for Yale’s Black Environmentalism’s conference (2022). A major solo exhibition at the Pitt River Museum, Oxford opened in February 2023.
Curated by Emelie Chhangur, Qanita Lilla and Sebastian De Line

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Chancellor Dunning Trust Visitorship, Queen’s University. Partner: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts


Portrait of Zina Saro-Wiwa. Courtesy of the artist

Portrait of Zina Saro-Wiwa. Courtesy of the artist

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