For its 2020 edition, ART X Live! – the dynamic fusion platform for art and music within ART X Lagos, West Africa’s first international art fair, presents ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ – a performance film starring musicians Oxlade and Tomi Owó, visual artist King Jesse Uranta, and DJ Camron.
First premiered on Saturday 5th December 2020, as part of the ART X Lagos 2020 art fair, ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ features a stellar line up of Nigeria’s exciting emerging creatives, cutting across art, music and fashion.
The short film – which will be on view until 31st December 2020 – weaves together music video performances directed by emerging filmmaker Omowunmi Ogundipe with Creative Direction by Baingor Joiner; digital animation by King Jesse Uranta; artist interviews by UAXSTUDIO, and an activist-inspired DJ set by DJ Camron. The film’s music was curated by Lanre Masha, with art curation by Faridah Folawiyo, and creative production by Ayo Lawson.
Filmed at the height of the End SARS protests in Nigeria, the cast and crew of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ were forced to navigate around protests and roadblocks in various locations across the city of Lagos to deliver on the project, even though many of them were playing active roles within the protests and the movement.
Oxlade, for example, was one of the leaders at the Surulere protest site. His best friend and road manager, Ademola “Ojah Bee” Ojabodu, was arrested and badly beaten by the police at the protest, suffering brain inflammation merely days before the film shoot. Speaking about the effect of this trauma, and his unrelenting determination to perform in spite of it, Oxlade said, “I was creating at the hardest point of my life this year, in fear… but the love for art and music kept me going.”
ART X Lagos, the art fair within which ART X Live! sits, was also postponed from its original dates in November, to December 2020, in solidarity with the protests. Its parent company, ART X Collective, rolled out an emergency support initiative for 100 young photographers across 20 states in Nigeria, who had taken to the streets, risking their safety to capture the protests led by their peers, as they unfolded across the country.
‘Like Someone’s Watching’ seeks to probe both the burden and the privilege of creating as an artist. It speaks to artists finding the balance between ‘art for art’s sake’, and their responsibility to create work that is reflective of the overarching sentiment of their audience and the mood of the times. They do this not to be controversial but because somebody is watching, and learning, and hoping.
In the film, we see the progression of musical artists Oxlade and Tomi Owó performing to nobody at all initially, representing in some cases excruciating loneliness, which eventually evolves into triumphant liberation as the notion of their audience emerges, and with it, their responsibility.
Oxlade’s dynamite hit ‘Away’, featured in the film, was just named by Rolling Stone Magazine, No. 23 in its list of the 50 Best Songs of 2020, while Tomi Owó, who is signed to Universal Music, released last weekend her song ‘Beautiful’, which also features in the film.
Visual artist King Jesse Uranta’s digital animations depict the unending matrix of the creative process. At first, he questions the futility of creating in a vacuum. But ultimately, with the political messaging of his work, Jesse shows the importance of creating in a way that speaks to one’s political climate.
Next in the film, we see DJ Camron, performing a revolutionary set, with a mix of songs curated to remind us that the current state of affairs in the world is nothing new. He takes us on a musical journey that spans decades and continents and forces us to reflect on the fact that the past has continued to repeat itself, against a backdrop of images profiling Nigeria and Africa’s greatest political heroes.
With styling by fast-rising photographer Stephen Tayo, fashion looks within the film include pieces by LVMH Prize finalists Kenneth Ize and Bayo Oke Lawal of Orange Culture, Vogue-favourite Turfah Official, and Faith Oluwajimi of Bloke NG – winner of the ALARA Emerge Prize in 2018.
Speaking to the power of this creative collaboration by some of Nigeria’s most exciting young creatives, Tokini Peterside, the Executive Producer of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’, and the Founder & CEO of ART X Collective, said: “ ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ is a powerful response from Nigeria’s emerging generation of creative talent – working across art, music and fashion – to this challenging and difficult year in which a global pandemic has ravaged Nigeria’s economy, and a promising political movement which raised issues that are still largely unresolved, was brought to an abrupt and brutal end by the Nigerian government.
Our film is a bold signal and statement to the world about our belief in Nigeria and its future. It is hopeful, it is energetic and it is inspiring – a true reflection of the unbreakable spirit of Nigeria’s young creatives. Ultimately, ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ aims to highlight the artist’s role and power in ensuring that our future is brighter than our past.”
VISUAL & AUDIO CONTENT:
Watch ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ on YouTube until 31st December 2020:
Listen to the Soundtrack of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ on Apple Music:
Listen to Oxlade, Tomi Owó and King Jesse Uranta Speak on the Events of 2020, in Their Own Words:
YouTube Links: Download Links:
Tomi Owo Tomi Owó
King Jesse Uranta King Jesse Uranta
All Interviews Filmed in Lagos by UAXSTUDIO.
About ART X Live!
ART X Live! is a platform for expression and experimentation by Africa’s dynamic young creators, fusing live music and visual art, launched in 2016 by ART X Collective – the creators of ART X Lagos, West Africa’s premier international art fair.
The immersive, one-of-a-kind showcase holds during the ART X Lagos art fair each year, featuring exciting collaborations between some of the fastest-rising talents on the African continent. ART X Live! alumni include Falana, WurlD, Lady Donli, Amaarae, Odunsi the Engine and Teni the Entertainer, to name a few.
For its first virtual edition, necessitated by the global pandemic and political climate in Nigeria, ART X Live! presents ‘Like Someone’s Watching’, a short performance film weaving together music video performances, interviews, digital artwork and a DJ set, probing both the burden and the privilege of creating as an artist.
The film includes music by Oxlade and Tomi Owo, striking digital art by King Jesse Uranta, and a set of revolutionary, activist music created by DJ Camron, taking us on a musical journey that spans decades and continents.
Listen to the Playlist on Apple Music here.
ART X Live! 2020 is sponsored by Tangerine, Tiger Beer and TRACE.
About ART X Lagos
ART X Lagos was launched as a dynamic platform to showcase and support the breadth of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. The fair, founded in 2016 by Tokini Peterside, has since become a cornerstone of the African art calendar, and one of the world’s most exciting new art fairs. The first of its kind in West Africa, ART X Lagos is a unique cultural event that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of an art fair and has welcomed over 30,000 visitors to several days of dynamic art experiences, and now virtually through ARTXLAGOS.COM.
Since its debut in 2016, ART X Lagos has grown to host galleries and artists from 30 countries across Africa. The fair is renowned for its ambitious program, which delivers in addition to its exhibitors’ section, ART X Talks – a lively talks program, ART X Live! – a dynamic performance platform that merges visual art and live music – as well as curated special and interactive projects tailored to engage diverse audiences. These programs have featured an array of emerging and established artists from the continent and diaspora, including keynote artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Njideka Akunyili-Crosby, Yinka Shonibare CBE, El Anatsui, Hank Willis Thomas, alongside other prominent artists.
The 2020 edition of ART X Lagos, took place online at ARTXLAGOS.COM from 2-9 December 2020. Its extended program included a curated selection of 200 works from Africa’s leading galleries; innovative programming through its existing platforms – ART X Talks, ART X Live!, ART X Review – and a landmark virtual exhibition, New Nigeria Studios, which was birthed from the parent company ART X Collective’s support initiative for 100 emerging photographers who documented the recent protests in Nigeria.
Visit ARTXLAGOS.COM for more, and @artxlagos on Instagram.
ABOUT THE CAST, CREW & PRODUCTION TEAM
Executive Producer: Tokini Peterside – @tokinipeterside
Marketing Lead: Saze Ibraheem – @sazeibraheem
Project Management Lead: Melody Fayomi – @melodyfayomi
Art Curator: Faridah Folawiyo – @faridahf
Music Curator: Lanre Masha – @royalmasha
Creative Producer: Ayo Lawson – @ayo_l
Oxlade – @oxladeofficial – Performing Artist
Oxlade’s dynamite hit ‘Away’, featured in ART X Live!’s performance film ‘Like Someone’s Watching’, was just named one of the 50 Best Songs of 2020 by Rolling Stone Magazine. The 22 year old singer began his musical journey in a choir and first put out his music on Sound Cloud in 2017, releasing his first official single ‘Shugar’ the following year.
Tomi Owó – @tomiowo – Performing Artist
Singer-songwriter Tomi Owó is known for her mellow yet rich vocals and emotive live performances.The Lagos-bred artist’s style cuts across soul, jazz and R&B, with a bias for unobtrusive instrumentals that often include synths and traditional African percussion.
King Jesse Uranta – @kingurantatata – Visual Artist
King Jesse Uranta is a CGI and graphic artist best known for creating surreal and striking 3D animations. From a young age, the 22 year old artist found an outlet for his creativity through drawing, painting, bead making and creating objects out of found materials. He created his first work of 3D art in 2019.
DJ Camron – @djcamron – Performing Artist
Kelechi ‘DJ Camron’ Orji is a performance DJ, producer, songwriter and the founder of AFRORAVE – a fusion festival of African sounds and world music. He has performed at international festivals such as Oshiaga, TD Jazz Fest and Palm Wine Festival, and has worked with a range of artists including the iconic Orlando Julius and Lady Donli.
Omowunmi Ogundipe – @omowunmi_o – Film Director of the Music Videos
Filmmaker Omowunmi Ogundipe is passionate about telling authentic stories from the African continent. With a portfolio that includes documentaries, short films and narrative content for brands such as Waffles and Cream – Nigeria’s groundbreaking skating and street wear brand, and ALARA – Africa’s pioneering luxury concept store, the 29-year-old filmmaker has also brought a unique African flavour to global heavyweight brands like VICE, Red Bull, the BBC and Amnesty International.
Baingor Joiner – @bailikedubai – Creative Director of the Music Videos
Baingor Joiner is a creative producer, consultant and multidisciplinary artist. His main mediums are photography and film, though he also works with sound, fashion and the written word. What inspires Baingor most is nature and the beauty of the African spirit, the essence of which he tries to capture in his work.
Styling: Stephen Tayo – @stephen.tayo
Director of Photography: Temi Evo – @temi_evo
Production Manager: Oluwamuyiwa Logo – @logorofafrica
Photographer: Manny Jefferson – @mannyjefferson
Interviews / Documentary Footage: UAXSTUDIO – @ua.x
Production Consultant: Uche Enyi – @ministercairo
Kenneth Ize – @kennethize
Orange Culture – @orangecultureng
Bloke NG – @bloke_ng
Turfah Official – @turfahofficial
Mazelle Studio – @mazelle.studio