Although Table Manners’ provocative title speaks to colonially-instigated questions surrounding the manner in which Africans traditionally eat, the piece is, for Saro-Wiwa, really about place and power. The act of eating and consuming the food drawn from the land re-inscribes and re-insinuates the eater back into the landscape in a physical and metaphysical way, rendering a quotidian action into an act of defiance. The somewhat confrontational action speaks of agency, power, sexuality, ownership and stewardship. The performance is sublimated ritual and resistance. An act of insistence which takes on a particular resonance when considering the fractured relationship with the land that has been imposed on Niger Delta peoples over the last 100 years.
The work has been shown at Blaffer Art Museum, Houston; Tate Britain, London; The Walther Collection, NYC and Germany; Krannert Museum, Illinois, Prospect 4 in New Orleans and as part of the Landmarks Series at Austin University in April 2018, at Tiwani Gallery in London, at Art Basel Miami and at the Fowler Museum, LA amongst other institutions.