Art Dubai Residents: Artist Longinos Nagila explores the power of mass consumerism

Longinos Nagila works on a new piece in 2020.  A.R.M. Holding is the home of Residents and the program is supported by Tashkeel. (Photo courtesy: Lena Kassicieh)
Short Url
Updated 29 March 2020

Art Dubai Residents: Artist Longinos Nagila explores the power of mass consumerism

  • Despite the lack of a physical show, the works of Longinos Nagila, an experimental multimedia artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, were completed and engage technology and found objects to investigate the human condition and the implications of modernity

DUBAI: With Johannesburg-based curator Kabelo Malatsie at the helm of the third edition of Art Dubai Residents, six African artists were due to exhibit under a theme of “Internal logic” prior to the shuttering of numerous public events across the UAE due to COVID-10. 

Despite the lack of a physical show, the works of Longinos Nagila, an experimental multimedia artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, were completed and engage technology and found objects to investigate the human condition and the implications of modernity.

“Having the opportunity to make work out of my normal geographical space means that I have freedom to try new things,” Nagila told Arab News of his time working in Dubai. “It exposes you to a different kind of audience, who come with different knowledge.” Focused on using art as a tool of communication, he explained that the key to an artwork is not the piece itself, rather, the dialogue and relationship between artist, work and audience. “I can reach out more when I bring objects together,” said Nagila. “Objects have their own limitations, leading me to use mediums like film, video installation or photography, but the presentation gives them new life.” 




Longinos Nagila  explores consumerism. (Photo courtesy: Lena Kassicieh)

Nagila’s playful approach to producing his contemplative “immersions of representational aspects of objects” begs the viewer to be mindfully explorative. “I work with subjects that affect human beings in contemporary times,” he remarked. “I’ve worked with fashion, migration, identity, and for a time I put my focus on art itself, exploring what is or is not art. But for this residency, I looked toward capitalism, products that have been branded as symbols of consumerism and its trappings on society at large.” An inescapable reality, consumerism exists hand-in-hand with life today and “as the world becomes larger, turning into a global village, consumerism and capitalism uses that as an advantage,” asserted Nagila, lamenting that upon picking up a bird’s nest, he found part of it had been woven with a Cadbury chocolate wrapper. “It’s becoming part of the ecosystem, not just through what we consume, but even the remnants, the footprints of products and packaging.”

Using non-traditional materials, the works tackle urgent issues with unavoidable first-hand confrontation. “It doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for traditional materials, but I feel other materials work better because when I look at a painting, it’s trying to create an illusion of space,” indicates Nagila. “Objects that people have used and have had meaning in their lives are more powerful and communicative. So why should I fake it when I have the real thing?”

Longinos Nagila is represented by Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi, Kenya.


Local art scenes get more creative as pandemic keeps curtains closed

Updated 04 July 2020

Local art scenes get more creative as pandemic keeps curtains closed

DUBAI: All artists need to reinvent themselves to cope with changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, a veteran stand-up comedian said as he ventures on a four-country Zoom comedy tour that will kick off in the UAE.

Indian comedian Nitin Mirani said it was tough to adapt to how the entertainment industry is changing due to the pandemic, which forced a global shutdown of art and culture communities.

“Because of the pandemic, we have to now reincarnate. We have to be reborn. This is something we’ve never done before,” he told Arab News via Zoom, an increasingly popular platform not just for business meetings anymore, but also for the live-entertainment industry.

Although Mirani said he is enjoying the new experiences the pandemic has put him in as a comedian, he added that comedy is about “making moments with people,” which was been made difficult.

“Every art form comes with its own energy. I know that no matter how much you try, how hard you try, watching something online won’t give you goosebumps as much as watching Celine Dion hit one note live,” he said. “That’s the genesis of artform. It requires interaction. It’s an exchange of energies.”

Echoing Mirani’s sentiment was poet Dorian Paul Rogers, who founded Abu Dhabi-based culture and arts organization Rooftop Rhythms in 2012, and has been involved in virtual projects since the start of the pandemic.

“When you’re in person you get the spirit of the community — it’s palpable. You see people’s facial reactions. You see people snapping their fingers, laughing,” Rogers said.

“Our show is definitely a community-based show. That was my biggest fear — that the show may feel impersonal or may feel disconnected.”

But Rogers said there have been “many benefits to doing virtual events,” including being able to reach many people outside the region, both as audiences and performers.

Mirani and Rogers believe that the world needs art now more than ever as it struggles to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

“I feel like continuing these events at any capacity during the COVID-19 from a virtual standpoint is important because a lot of us need that connection,” said Rogers. “We lost that feeling of belonging. I believe that arts communities are critical for that reason.”