The Visual Culture and Heritage Research Group
Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Visual Culture as a field of study is a combination of cultural studies straddling art history, critical theory, philosophy, and anthropology, among others. It focuses on aspects of culture that rely on visuality. Often, visual culture deals with the interaction between popular and “low” cultural forms, media and communications, and “high” art, design, and architecture. Heritage, on the other hand, refers to something or values handed down from the past. To this extent, cultural heritage, describes the legacy represented by tangible and intangible resources, including artifacts, and other attributes of a people or society.
This research group thus recognizes that aspects of visual culture include tangible heritage, and that tangible heritage is a concrete example of visual culture. The group proposes to use the study of visual images as basis for engaging issues which bother on history, social transition and change, identity and internationalism, social and human development, religious and political realities, education as cross-generational conversation and how these issues connect with culture as a nexus of identity and collective memory and desire in Africa. Without descending to methodological harlotry, the group shall combine theories and techniques in art, humanities and aspects of the social sciences in addressing research interests that come under the purview of visual culture and heritage studies. In doing so, the realities of the postcolonial project will be a key research factor, given their totalizing impact on the cultural, social and political arena in Africa. The group’s research interests include, but are not limited to: Fine Art, History of Art, Art and Anthropology, Art as Political Thought, Art and Development, Art, Film and Visuality in the Postcolonial Project, Art and Resistance in Africa, Architecture and Fashion as Social Arts, Culture and Sexuality, Art and Film as Visual Metaphor, Art, Transition and Change in the Anatomy of Death and Burial in Africa, Religion and Homo Aestheticus, Art and Philosophy, etc.
Members of this interdisciplinary research group are listed below:
Chuu Krydz IKWUEMESI, painter, art critic, ethno-aesthetician and cultural entrepreneur, has a BA (First Class Honours) in Fine and Applied Arts, an MFA in Painting and a PhD in Art History from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is the founder of the Pan-African Circle of Artists (PACA) and Emeritus President of The Art Republic (also known as Centre for Arts and Cultural Democracy), Enugu. He has participated in workshops and creative residencies and has directed Afrika Heritage (the PACA Biennale), Overcoming Maps (PACA Study Tour of Africa), and the Mmanwu Theatre in Enugu. Ikwuemesi has researched and published on aspects of Igbo arts; his doctoral thesis embodied a comparative study of Igbo and Ainu arts and cultures. In 2009 he researched Ainu arts and aesthetics as a Japan Foundation Fellow in Hokkaido. He is the editor of two major journals: The Art Republic and Letter from Afrika. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and was recently a Visiting Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan. He is a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies African Humanities Program and a Senior Fellow of the IFRA (French Institutue for Research in Africa). He was recently Coordinator of the Humanities Unit in the School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and is currently the coordinator of the Death Studies Association of Nigeria. A polyvalent artist of superlative merit, Ikwuemesi has held several solo and group exhibitions and published many articles on art in professional journals.
George Chukwuka ODOH holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting from the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated as the best overall student in the Department (1997/1998 session). He also holds MFA (Painting) and PhD (Art History) degrees of the University of Nigeria. From 1998 – 2005, he worked with an Integrated Marketing Communication Agency in south-east Nigeria before taking up a lecturing appointment in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has contributed articles in local and international journals and has participated in numerous art exhibitions within and outside Nigeria.
Chidi UGWU is writing his dissertation on the local landscape of malaria intervention as a platform of biomedical globalization in Nsukka, southeast Nigeria. His research interests include the political economy of health, ethnopsychiatry, and religious systems. Since joining the PhD program at the University of Nigeria, he has been selected for fellowships and summer training programmes for exceptionally promising scholars. He won an African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (Nairobi) grant for his interesting PhD research part of which he has presented to the World History Center, University of Pittsburgh, USA and the African Studies Association, UK, University of Sussex in 2014. He has been a member of The Lancet Global Collaboration for Indigenous Health from July 2014.
Eva OBODO is a Nigerian artist. He holds a B.A. (1992), an M.F.A. (1999) and a Ph.D. (2011) from the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and presently teaches sculpture and art education in the same University. Obodo has participated in several solo and group art exhibitions and biennales, which include Osaka Triennale, 2001, Japan, and DAK’ART 2002 Biennale de Dakar, Senegal. He took part in the first African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA) at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria in 2008. And in 2012, he was appointed a juror for Life in My City Art Festival Grand Finale at Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, Nigeria. In 2013, he was a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow in Washington, DC. He has some publications and biographical references in art journals, magazines and national newspapers. His works, usually dependent on exploratory work-processes, stand as visual metaphors that tend to yield variegated interpretations in different contexts.
George Emeka AGBO is an emerging scholar and artist whose training, teaching and research interest have necessitated a convergence of practices in graphic design, art history, museum and heritage, visual culture and photography. Since 2008, he has been a faculty member of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, following his graduation with First Class Honours, in addition to a subsequent excellent performance in the Master of Fine Arts programme. The African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies fellowship he completed with a First Class stimulated his curiosity in how material objects including art become engaged in rituals of display, and immateriality constructed to interpret histories and contemporary societal issues. He is presently an Andrew Melon Doctoral Fellow of the Programme on the Study of Humanities in Africa, at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. His ongoing project is an enquiry into how photography on Facebook constitutes a virtualisation of activism in Nigeria. While he has published some articles in journals and books, his current work is defining for him a research direction in which visuality, social media and postcoloniality are brought together for critical intellectual examination.
Livinus Kenechi NGWU attended Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, where he obtained an NCE as the overall Best Student in 1999. In 2000, he gained admission into University of Nigeria, Nsukka to study Fine and Applied Arts and graduated with First Class Honours in 2004. He subsequently studied for his MFA in Sculpture at the same university and graduated in 2013. He was a Lecturer at Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, from 2007 to 2011. Since 2011, he has been teaching sculpture at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.