Using sound, photography, and food respectively, artists Emeka Oghoh, Iké Udé, and Temitayo Ogunbiyi with chef Renèe Chuks question assumptions concerning culture, geography, and identity. By appealing to the senses, these artists urge audiences to remember and recognize the complexity inherent in representation; natural, spiritual, and social ecosystems; and the performances within everyday life.
Taste! is a platform for creative encounters centering on a multifaceted, far-reaching Lagos. Realized in collaboration with the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), ART X Lagos, and the African Artists’ Foundation, Taste! is the foundation experience of 24 Hours of the Smithsonian in Lagos, the inaugural event that launches the National Museum of African Art’s new international presence.
Taste! Memory is a collaboration between Lagos-based visual artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi and chef Renèe Chuks. Their menu of food and drink—fresh Cuban mint and broccoli leaves grown in Ogunbiyi’s home garden mixed with Chef Renèe’s locally sourced squid ink, pineapple, hibiscus, turmeric, and bambara—honors their connections to Yoruba cooking techniques.
This project draws on Nigerian-Jamaican-American Ogunbiyi’s practice that seeks to position plant knowledge she has learned in Lagos in dialogue with Western study of plants. Her strategies document the transformations of botanicals as they are prepared for eating. Her works fuse botanical forms with the shapes of hairstyles she has observed in the Caribbean, West Africa, and elsewhere. Selections from Ogunbiyi’s forms are printed on the servers’ and ushers’ custom aprons, as well as on take-home gift items.
Chef Renèe Chuks
Chef Renèe Chuks is a culinary innovator and entrepreneur specializing in combining local and diasporic ingredients to support more sustainable and empowering food chains. She is the cofounder and CEO of Aldente Africa, an artisanal food and beverage company, and executive academic director and lead chef instructor at the Umami Center for Culinary Arts. Chuks is a classically trained French chef, graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Austin, Texas.
Temitayo Ogunbiyi creates works on paper, paintings, sculptures, and ambitious installations. In addition to exploring plants as they live around her, she also aims to record the socio-economic conditions they exist within and how they are transformed in a wide range of culinary traditions. Ogunbiyi received a 2020–2021 Digital Earth Fellowship, a 2018 Smithsonian Artist in Research Fellowship, and a 2014 Ford Foundation Fellowship. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Madre Museum (Naples, Italy), the 2019 Lagos Biennial, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, and the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, among other venues. She is also a director of Yinka Shonibare CBE’s Guest Artist Space Foundation.
Taste! Mystique by Iké Udé is a three-part art experience that includes a master class, an exhibition with interactive studio sets, and a tableau vivant living installation.
Taste! Mystique 1
On November 5, Iké Udé partnered with the African Artists’ Foundation to lead a master class for a group of emerging Lagos-based photographers. The young artists were tutored by Udé in his signature style—creating mystique at the intersection of harmony and the unexpected. Participants took portraits of Lagosian influencers positioned with evocative props.
Taste! Mystique 2
Alongside photographs from the master class, Udé presents two bespoke studio sets that reflect and disrupt distinct, cultural references from Lagos and beyond. The opulent sets offer visitors an opportunity to perform, take photographs, and commune. Within Udé’s compositions, participants can choose how to participate in personal negotiations of space and proximity.
Master Class Participants
Toyin Adedokun, Neec Nonso, Ismail Odetola, Temitope Ogungbamila, and David Shonowo
Taste! Mystique 3
The Taste! Mystique experience culminates in a living installation at the opening night party of the Africa International Film Festival. Guests of the festival’s opening celebration can become works of art by posing for photographs against another of Udé’s exuberant sets.
Iké Udé is a Nigerian-American conceptual artist who has been creating work that complicates notions of identity and perception since the 1990s. He uses photography to draw attention to how individuals portrayed in highly posed “performances” can reveal more truth than contrived poses that aim to be natural. Udé’s work is in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Sheldon Museum, RISD Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and many private collections. His forthcoming solo exhibition Iké Udé: Nollywood Portraits opens at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., in February 2022.
Taste! Sound is an immersive live listening session with artist Emeka Ogboh. Visitors are invited to listen closely, and together, to music and soundscapes that include field recordings Ogboh made in Lagos. The artist recontextualizes sounds from Lagos and other cities to highlight contemporary microeconomics, reflect on the social dynamics of immigrant populations, and respond to pertinent planetary issues.
During this session, he will revisit the early years of his career, discuss his crossover into the music industry, debut a track from his forthcoming music album, and offer a sneak preview of his major forthcoming project, Lagos Underwater. Ogboh’s music and sounds will be interspersed with conversation with the artist, livestreamed from Berlin, as he shares his process, influences, and motivations.
Emeka Ogboh uses sound and gastronomy to create installations that have included music, soundscapes, limited editions of artisanal beer, sculpture, and collaborations with chefs. He increasingly uses these works to examine how visual art can catalyze conversations about the environment. Having exhibited at documenta 14 (2017), the Venice Biennale (2015), and the Dakar Biennale (2014), he is an internationally acclaimed artist with works in major collections worldwide, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. This past September, to mark the close of Afrique 2020, Ogboh presented a medley of his installations capturing Lagos at the Élysée Palace in Paris.