Zina Saro-Wiwa

Across moving image, photography, performance and installation, Saro-Wiwa draws on ritual, folklore and masquerade to explore decolonised notions
of environment and environmentalism. Mapping mystical intimacies between human beings and the land belongs to an ongoing interest in emotional and psychic landscapes. Often, she explores the visible and unseen cultures of the Niger Delta offering a radically distinct and generative re-engagement of this biodiverse region in Nigeria that faces continued deforestation and degradation rarely seen by the West.

After a few years working in the US as an artist, Saro-Wiwa returned to her native Ogoniland in 2013, spending two years immersing herself in the ‘emotional, social and spiritual ecosystems’ of the Niger Delta region. Her time there produced a body of work that focuses on the human experience of environment within a landscape undergoing trauma. She seeks to re-define and re-imagine what environmentalism can mean, positioning her work within the internal and emotional landscape, and expanding understandings of the issues of the Niger Delta and other environmentally compromised regions. Saro-Wiwa’s food performances – feasts and banquets utilising local produce, and video work focusing on the act of eating – offer a further connection to the land of the Niger Delta, as a ‘ritual act of ingesting and incorporating a West African worldview on a cellular level’.

Zina Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria, grew up in the UK, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York but still curates for the gallery she established in the Niger Delta city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Formerly a journalist presenting programmes on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Two's The Culture Show, Saro-Wiwa now produces video installations, photographs and experimental films. Zina Saro-Wiwa was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Art in 2017, was recently Artist-in-Residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (2016-2017) and in December 2016, Zina Saro-Wiwa was recognised as one of 2016's Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. Her recent exhibitions include: Southampton Art Centre, UK (2018), Museum of World Cultures (2018), Walther Collection Project Space, NY (2016); solo exhibitions at Krannert Museum (2016-2017), IL and Blaffer Museum, TX (2015-2016); Bozar, Brussels (2016); Arles Photo-Festival (2016); Brooklyn Museum, NY (2016); UCLA Fowler Museum (2016); Guggenheim, Bilbao (2015); Nikolaj Kunstal, Copenhagen (2015); The Menil Collection, TX (2013); and the Pulitzer Foundation, MO (2013). Recent screenings include: Serpentine Gallery, London (2016); an evening dedicated to her work at Tate Britain, London (2016); and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2014).

Saro-Wiwa is the founder and curator for the Port Harcourt contemporary art gallery Boys' Quarters Project Space, which showcases local Niger Delta artists as well as national and international artists. Her work can currently be seen in Recent Histories at The Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, and will be featured in the fourth Prospect New Orleans Triennial, from November 2017.