Critics’ Picks

View of Emeka Ogboh’s Migratory Notes, 2021, five-channel video, color, sound, 6 minutes 59 minutes.

View of Emeka Ogboh’s Migratory Notes, 2021, five-channel video, color, sound, 6 minutes 59 minutes.

Marseille

Emeka Ogboh

Fraeme
La Friche la Belle de mai, 41 rue jobin
June 4–October 24, 2021

Known for works addressing community and migration through food, music, and video, Emeka Ogboh offers a multisensorial feast with “Stirring the Pot.” For Ámà 2.0, all works 2021, the artist arranged twelve speakers into a large circle, each speaker playing a different single voice performing the same Igbo folk song. From the room’s center, where large cushions covered in Akwete textiles beckon, the dozen voices merge into an immersive harmony. Walk right up to one speaker, however, and a unique voice breaks through and drowns out the rest. This interplay of solo and choral voices beautifully describes how individuals shape a community, and vice versa.

Activating ears, eyes, and nose, the five-screen video Migratory Notes intercuts footage of bananas being packed and shipped to France from Cameroun and Ghana with street scenes and clips of food preparation in Marseille’s Noailles neighborhood, home to many North African and West African immigrants. To subtly enhance the visual journey of people and foodways, various scents including a mix of sea salt and petrol and African pepper soup spices are piped into the gallery.

Finally, for tasting, Ogboh developed two craft beers specifically for the exhibition. Named for piquant seeds often used in Nigerian cooking, Uda and Uziza were made with French brewery Brasserie du Castellet. Bottles sold at a pop-up bar housed in a repurposed yellow danfo taxi imported from Lagos can be enjoyed onsite. A symbol of the urban hustle and bustle of his hometown, taxis have long inspired Ogboh (he brought one to the streets of New York City in 2014 and to Paris’s Palais de Tokyo in 2019). In Marseille, the danfo provides a natural gathering hub, a place to further stir the pot.