FOR IT’S 2020 edition, ART X Live! – the dynamic fusion platform for art and music within ART X Lagos, West Africa’s first international art fair, presents ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ – a performance film starring musicians Oxlade and Tomi Owó, visual artist King Jesse Uranta, and DJ Camron.
Like Someone’s Watching’ is a powerful response from Nigeria’s emerging generation of creative talent – working across art, music and fashion
Tokini Peterside, Executive Producer of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’
First premiered on Saturday 5th December 2020, as part of the ART X Lagos 2020 art fair, ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ features a stellar line up of Nigeria’s exciting emerging creatives, cutting across art, music and fashion.
The short film – which will be on view until December 31, 2020 – weaves together music video performances directed by emerging filmmaker Omowunmi Ogundipe with Creative Direction by Baingor Joiner; digital animation by King Jesse Uranta; artist interviews by UAXSTUDIO, and an activist-inspired DJ set by DJ Camron.
The film’s music was curated by Lanre Masha, with art curation by Faridah Folawiyo, and creative production by Ayo Lawson.
Filmed at the height of the End SARS protests in Nigeria, the cast and crew of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ were forced to navigate around protests and roadblocks in various locations across the city of Lagos to deliver on the project, even though many of them were playing active roles within the protests and the movement.
Oxlade, for example, was one of the leaders at the Surulere protest site. His best friend and road manager, Ademola “Ojah Bee” Ojabodu, was arrested and badly beaten by the police at the protest, suffering brain inflammation merely days before the film shoot.
Speaking about the effect of this trauma, and his unrelenting determination to perform in spite of it, Oxlade said: “I was creating at the hardest point of my life this year, in fear… but the love for art and music kept me going.”
ART X Lagos, the art fair within which ART X Live! sits, was also postponed from its original dates in November, to December 2020, in solidarity with the protests. Its parent company, ART X Collective, rolled out an emergency support initiative for 100 young photographers across 20 states in Nigeria, who had taken to the streets, risking their safety to capture the protests led by their peers, as they unfolded across the country.
‘Like Someone’s Watching’ seeks to probe both the burden and the privilege of creating as an artist.
It speaks to artists finding the balance between ‘art for art’s sake’, and their responsibility to create work that is reflective of the overarching sentiment of their audience and the mood of the times.
They do this not to be controversial but because somebody is watching, and learning, and hoping.
In the film, we see the progression of musical artists Oxlade and Tomi Owó performing to nobody at all initially, representing in some cases excruciating loneliness, which eventually evolves into triumphant liberation as the notion of their audience emerges, and with it, their responsibility.
Oxlade’s dynamite hit ‘Away’, featured in the film, was just named by Rolling Stone Magazine, No. 23 in its list of the 50 Best Songs of 2020, while Tomi Owó, who is signed to Universal Music, released last weekend her song ‘Beautiful’, which also features in the film.
Visual artist King Jesse Uranta’s digital animations depict the unending matrix of the creative process.
At first, he questions the futility of creating in a vacuum. But ultimately, with the political messaging of his work, Jesse shows the importance of creating in a way that speaks to one’s political climate.
Next in the film we see DJ Camron, performing a revolutionary set, with a mix of songs curated to remind us that the current state of affairs in the world is nothing new.
He takes us on a musical journey that spans decades and continents, and forces us to reflect on the fact that the past has continued to repeat itself, against a backdrop of images profiling Nigeria and Africa’s greatest political heroes.
With styling by fast-rising photographer Stephen Tayo , fashion looks within the film include pieces by LVMH Prize finalists Kenneth Ize and Bayo Oke Lawal of Orange Culture, Vogue-favourite Turfah Official , and Faith Oluwajimi of Bloke NG – winner of the ALARA Emerge Prize in 2018.
Speaking to the power of this creative collaboration by some of Nigeria’s most exciting young creatives, Tokini Peterside, the Executive Producer of ‘Like Someone’s Watching’, and the Founder & CEO of ART X Collective, said: “Like Someone’s Watching’ is a powerful response from Nigeria’s emerging generation of creative talent – working across art, music and fashion – to this challenging and difficult year in which a global pandemic has ravaged Nigeria’s economy, and a promising political movement which raised issues that are still largely unresolved, was brought to an abrupt and brutal end by the Nigerian government.
“Our film is a bold signal and statement to the world about our belief in Nigeria and its future.
“It is hopeful, it is energetic and it is inspiring – a true reflection of the unbreakable spirit of Nigeria’s young creatives.
“Ultimately, ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ aims to highlight the artist’s role and power in ensuring that our future is brighter than our past.”
Watch ‘Like Someone’s Watching’ on YouTube until December 31, 2020: