Zina Saro-Wiwa:
The Illicit Gin Institute, Assembly #6

Hotel Wolfe Island, 1237 County Rd 96, Wolfe Island, ON
31 March 2023
7–10 pm

Commissioned and presented by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre

This March, Agnes hosts world-renowned Zina Saro-Wiwa as artist-in-residence, culminating in a very special Illicit Gin Institute Assembly on Wolfe Island.

A social sculpture and a secular ritual that carries resonances of fellowship and solidarity, Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Assembly is a living, evolving performance piece created in collaboration with local audience-participants to share and express her findings on African sociality, botanicals, spirituality, and science. They make space for new stories to bubble forth from older forms and connect people, places and histories. This is the first major presentation of Saro-Wiwa’s work in Canada.*

The Order of Service for the Assembly: Smudging, Opening Remarks, Introductory Lecture, Silent Tasting, Performance, Greeting Session, Sarogua Cocktail Hour, Dance Circle.

“…My Assemblies aim to rewire the social contract and are an opportunity to explore the very idea of ‘spirit’. It is social medicine.”

Other public-facing programs include a screening of Saro-Wiwa’s 2020 film Worrying The Mask: The Politics of Authenticity and Contemporaneity in the Worlds of African Art on 3 March, 7 pm at The Isabel Centre for the Performing Arts, an episode—or two— of Spirit Led, Saro-Wiwa’s podcast series, and other surprises yet to come!

Curated by Emelie Chhangur, Qanita Lilla and Sebastian De Line

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) and is currently exhibiting in the 5th Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India. A major solo exhibition of her work at the Pitt River Museum, Oxford opened in February 2023.

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: Hotel Wolfe Island.


Portrait of Zina Saro-Wiwa. Courtesy of the artist

Portrait of Zina Saro-Wiwa. Courtesy of the artist

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