Join us for the UK premiere of Karimah Ashadu’s new film Plateau, presented alongside three shorts, and a conversation with the artist.
The four films presented in this survey are connected through their focus on movement. Opening with three of the artist’s early short films, the series highlights Ashadu’s unconventional cinematographic practice, which studies and appropriates motion devices as tools towards new perspectives on labour in West Africa.
Her short films plunge viewers into three successive urban environments – the butchers’ stalls, a sandy lagoon and a soccer field – captured through a unique and playful formal language. Produced using handmade camera devices, such as rotating tripods, coloured filters, and magnifying lenses, they offer uncanny visions of Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria. The artist’s camera pans and rotates mechanically, giving presence to the rhythm of the device which buttresses each work. Its mechanism comes to mirror the labour it records.
Plateau, Ashadu’s most recent work, takes place in a tin and columbite mine in central Nigeria, near the city of Jos. The region's natural resources were exploited by the British empire from the mid-nineteenth century until Nigeria’s independence in 1960, and formally ended with the expiration of the International Tin Agreement in 1985. As the market collapsed, workers became jobless and organised to administrate the land for themselves. In Plateau, Ashadu questions the region’s extractive history and its effects on landscapes and bodies, wielding together portraits of miners and dynamic shots of Nigerian ponds and quarries. Discussing the work, the artist mentioned having ‘looked for ways to consider labour as a kind of a practice towards independence.’
- Karimah Ashadu, King of Boys (Abattoir de Makoko) 2015, HD colour video, sound, 5 minutes
- Karimah Ashadu, Lagos Sand Merchants 2013, HD colour video, sound, 9 minutes
- Karimah Ashadu, Apapa Amusement Park 2013, HD colour video, sound, 2 minutes
- Conversation with Karimah Ashadu, 25 minutes
- Karimah Ashadu, Plateau 2022, HD colour video, sound, 30 minutes, captioned