Arik Wings covers Zina’s work with African food


With a career spanning roles as a journalist and presenter for the BBC, filmmaking and producing installations and music videos, the exploration of African identities has been a common thread running through much of Zina Saro-Wiwa’s work. “Art and film have always been my tools to examine and re-imagine African identity.”

In 2011, Zina was selected as one of the top 25 leaders of the African Renaissance in The Times newspaper. One of her many films, This Is My Africa (2008/9), licensed by HBO, explores African culture through the anecdotes and commentary of  Africans and Africaphiles ranging from Yinka Shonibare to Colin Firth.

Her New West African Kitchen project, however, represents the first time Zina explores identity through food. “I’ve always thought that food has a pivotal role in our thinking about Africa.”

The feast made its debut in February 2012 at New York’s Third Streaming Gallery where Zina participated in their Paladar Series which invites visual artists to create a dining experience. A crackling success, her feast featured 27 booked guests, all seated at a beautifully dressed table, where a fixed menu included egusi devilled eggs, snapper with cassava-leaf pesto crust and ‘Agege’ bread pudding with papaya custard and palm wine glaze.

“I consider the feasts a performance. Not just in the presentation, but also because it is a ritual where you are taking time to honour the food and heritage,” says Zina. “The art world is an amazing place that’s been very open to my experimentation and I just felt the restrictions fall off my thinking once I understood the work I do with food as performance. I also feel there’s something very powerful that happens when we eat another culture’s food. It’s not just a cultural exchange, there’s something else that’s not tangible. It’s is that grey area that excites me. Art lives and thrives in these areas.” For Full article click here: www.arikwings.com/edible-identities