Sharon Stone in Abuja (2010)
Sharon Stone in Abuja – named after a Nollywood film – was an exhibition that paid homage to the world’s second largest film industry, the Nigerian Nollywood video industry. Shown at Location One Gallery in Soho, New York and curated by Zina Saro-Wiwa, Sharon Stone in Abuja featured commissioned works from Wangechi Mutu, Andrew Esiebo, works by Pieter Hugo and a collaboration between Mickalene Thomas and Zina Saro-Wiwa who together created a Nollywood living room and two portraits.
The show explored Zina’s fascination with an industry whose films displays little in the way of normative artistry but emit an extraordinary power and energy. “Nollywood films to me are a code. A doorway to another reality: the reality of the African psyche which, in many ways, is an unexplored and unchallenged terrain.” Through the visual narratives presented by participating artists Pieter Hugo, Wangechi Mutu, Andrew Esiebo, Mickalene Thomas and Zina Saro-Wiwa, Sharon Stone in Abuja sought to reveal the psychodrama beneath Nollywood’s breathless and voluble hyberbole, making statements about the emotional and psychological landscape of Africa and exploring the power in Nollywood’s homegrown amateur aesthetics.
Sharon Stone in Abuja was the first time Zina had curated a show and the first time she created and exhibited video installation work. For the exhibition she made two experimental films, one video sculpture, one wallpaper, a living installation with Mickalene Thomas and she co-art directed two Mickalene portraits. The show was covered by Art in America, CNN and various blogs.
We are indebted to Robert Devereux and The African Arts Trust, The New York State Council on the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, James Lindon, Wendy Fisher and the International Council at Location One for making this exhibition possible. Main Image (top) by Andrew Esiebo