Is the media being censored? Is the media overlooking issues that truly affect average people? In his latest body of work, titled ‘The Headline Series’, Nigerian artist, Ken Nwadiogbu makes a political statement by challenging and interrogating this perceived editorial bias by the media. Here, he employs the use of wordplay, newspapers, charcoal, pencil and paper. The series poses emphasis on the viewer to look closely, on the serious issues that fail to be given due attention, whilst finding hope in humour.
“Unless you have a free press in your country, there is no need to buy newspapers and there is no need to watch the news because there is no need to listen to the lies! And you already have one real information: You are being deceived by the people you are governed! This is enough information for you!”Mehmet Murat ildan
‘The Headline’ series is the artist’s way of disassembling and re-contextualizing elements of the newspaper and taking charge of and remaking the flow of information that defines our perception and the perception of certain regions. All the pieces in the series make their message merely by pointing out the jarring juxtapositions inherent in media.
Nwadiogbu presented this body of work at Miami Art Week from December 5–8, 2019. The Headline series was presented in an unconventional way, as a local newspaper stand in Nigeria. Each piece (newspaper) depicts an image of a palm trying to break free from behind a tight plastic bag. This represents a metaphor of the society trying to break free from its oppressors. Each piece is a deliberate attempt by the artist to bring to the consciousness of everyone, the corrupt news system around the world.
In addition to a newspaper stand, there were pre-recorded audios from several newspapers stands from several locations. This gave the viewers an opportunity to not just see but feel the issues the artist wants to highlight.
Born in 1994, Ken Nwadiogbu is a multidisciplinary artist who creates innovative conceptual drawings on various surfaces. Although he has a degree in civil and environmental engineering, he has practised as a studio artist for over 7 years, challenging and investigating Black socio-political structures and issues, while engaging in multidisciplinary modes of storytelling. His subject matter has since evolved with his continued experiences and expanded his focus to include issues like gender equality, African cultures and Black power.
Popularly known as KenArt, Nwadiogbu is credited for beginning the ‘Contemporealism’ movement, a fusion that is primarily centred around Hyper-Realism and Contemporary art. His interest in art, as well as his career began while he earned his undergraduate degree. Inspired by issues relating to his peers and those around him, he began creating works that reflect the everyday struggles of people like him, with the hopes of making a change in his community.
Nwadiogbu has been awarded the 2019 Future Africa Award Prize for visual and applied arts. He recently held his debut solo show Contemporealism (2019), in Brick Lane Gallery, London. He has also participated in local and international group exhibitions and fairs including Insanity (2016), Lagos; Artyrama Art Exhibition (2017), Lagos; Art X (2018 & 2019), Lagos; Moniker Art Fair (2018 & 2019), Brooklyn and London; Empowerment Exhibition (2018), London; Afriuture (2018), Canada; Anti-Trump Art Show (2019), London; LAX-SFO (2019), California; In the Making (2019), Abuja; LAX-MSY (2019), Lousiana; LAX LHR (2019), London and so on.