Karikpo Pipeline (2015) 5-channel video installation 27mins 31secs
Karikpo is a playful masquerade, unique to the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta. The masquerade – whose masks and movements mimic the antelope – features dramatic feats of acrobatic agility among its male performers and is played for entertainment at least once a year.
In Karikpo Pipeline, Saro-Wiwa transposes the dancers’ performances over remnants both visible and invisible of oil infrastructure in Ogoniland: exposed pipelines, an old wellhead with pollution-soaking sand surrounding it, roads where pipelines had previously lined the landscape, roads where the pipelines still exist but are buried; a rusting, decommissioned flow station. Filmed primarily with a drone camera, the work offers an opportunity to view the Niger Delta with an eye that conjures surveillance not only by petroleum interests but also by invisible spiritual forces.
Karikpo Pipeline gives visual and embodied form to human relationships with environment, teasing out the physical and emotional dynamics that frame cultural value systems for Ogoniland. At once futuristic and primordial, Karikpo Pipeline exposes the pipelines that traverse the land that are visible and invisible. The work asks, what constitutes true custodianship of land and where does power lie?