Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern

Orisa Egbe Deity of Destiny (Mrs Osun Yita) from 'Emissaries of an Iconic Religion'

Adolphus Opara
Orisa Egbe Deity of Destiny (Mrs Osun Yita) from 'Emissaries of an Iconic Religion', Photographic portrait ,
© Adolphus Opara 2011


Bankside London SE1 9TG


Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 10am-6pm Friday - Saturday: 10am-10pm


Michael MacGarry at Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern

'Contested Terrains' is an exhibition of recent work by four contemporary artists working in Africa, co-curated by Tate and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. These artists reclaim and subvert assumptions about Africa's past and present, exploring current political and social concerns both at a domestic level and across the world. Presented in the Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern’s dedicated space for emerging and recently established international artists, the exhibition will bring together work by Adolphus Opara (b.1981 Nigeria), Michael MacGarry (b.1978 South Africa), Sammy Baloji (b.1978 Democratic Republic of Congo) and Kader Attia (b.1970 France).

The artists in this exhibition assert control over the past, revealing that history is more than a succession of events and that the present remains contested terrain. Adolphus Opara’s photographic portraits of Nigerian diviners, posed in the manner of classic Victorian portraiture, act as a confident riposte to colonial representations of African spirituality. These connections with history are even more visible in Sammy Baloji’s works, which superimpose archival images taken during the height of Congolese mining onto contemporary photographs of ageing infrastructure and a scarred landscape. The tensions between tradition and modernity are made explicit in MacGarry’s sculptural objects, from ivory carvings of a container ship and an oil derrick to a nail-studded replica assault rifle, referencing Nkondi sculpture and the devastating effects of war. This theme is continued in Kader Attia’s two-channel slide installation, which juxtaposes images of African artefacts that have been repaired alongside photographs of First World War soldiers before and after rudimentary cosmetic surgery.

There will be a panel discussion with the artists on Saturday 30 July from 2-4pm, which which Kader Attia, Michael MacGarry and Adolphus Opara discuss the ideas and processes behind their work with exhibition curators Kerryn Greenberg, Jude Anogwih and Bolanle Austen-Peters, Managing Director/CEO, Terra Kulture. The discussion will touch upon the role of research in artistic practice and of art in mediating the past and present.

29 July 2011 - 16 October 2011