11 episodes

NKATA is an Igbo word from the language spoken by the Igbo people of Nigeria. It simply means "Conversation". Thus this podcast series will feature conversations with selected individuals (artists, cultural operators, and creatives) whose work I have known – some over many years and others, a little less so. What sets them apart is that I consider them and their works to be compelling, engaging and relevant to the time. The idea of this podcast is to have in-depth but also accessible conversations about who these individuals are, their life’s journeys and how this translates into their vocation as creative people. Conversations will depart from exploring the background of the artists' personal history while meandering through key themes, positions, and ideologies central to their works. Each episode will feature one conversation with a selected artist. Emeka Okereke (Host).

NKATA: Art and Processes Nkata Podcast Station

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

NKATA is an Igbo word from the language spoken by the Igbo people of Nigeria. It simply means "Conversation". Thus this podcast series will feature conversations with selected individuals (artists, cultural operators, and creatives) whose work I have known – some over many years and others, a little less so. What sets them apart is that I consider them and their works to be compelling, engaging and relevant to the time. The idea of this podcast is to have in-depth but also accessible conversations about who these individuals are, their life’s journeys and how this translates into their vocation as creative people. Conversations will depart from exploring the background of the artists' personal history while meandering through key themes, positions, and ideologies central to their works. Each episode will feature one conversation with a selected artist. Emeka Okereke (Host).

    EP10: We are trying to remember the future and rewrite the past. Nkata with Qudus Onikeku

    EP10: We are trying to remember the future and rewrite the past. Nkata with Qudus Onikeku

    In episode 10 of Nkata: Art & Processes, Emeka Okereke is in Conversation with Qudus Onikeku (b. 1984, Lagos), a Nigerian contemporary dancer, performer and Choreographer. He has been active and consistently prolific since 2004, so much that one cannot knowledgeably talk about the practice and evolution of contemporary dance in the 21st century without stumbling on the name Onikeku. As with many notable artists who came of age at the dawn of the century, he embodies the belief that art is only as important as what one can do and change with art. 
    This long-form conversation builds on the cordial, professional and collaborative relationship between the two artists dating back to their encounter as art students in Paris in 2004. It is a reminiscence of how much of the longs hours of exchanges on ideas, concepts, urges and dreams have coalesced into tangible forms and methodologies today. In this episode, we get a sense of the fundamental beliefs that, over the years, have stacked up to form an indomitable propellant for this tirelessly itinerant artist. 
    “It was already by then that I realised that freedom of expression is not free”. 
    He starts with his childhood days, and how growing up in a polygamous home taught him one of the first lessons that would be crucial for his artistic practice: co-existence. The only way to walk towards a sense of self and freedom is to allow space for others to express their freedom as well. 
    Much of the conversation dwells extensively on the complexness, language and constitution of the body as with when he says: “There is something divine about dance and this whole conversation about the the body. Our body is the house of everything”.  
    All through, Onikeku manages to ground his inferences on his knowledge of the Yoruba cosmology. His delineation of the connection between image, performance, remembering and reincarnation in this regard, is one of the most vivid and picturesque illustration of this relationship which is often at the heart of any visual art-making.
    The overarching premise could be surmised in this reference made in the course of the conversation:
    “Bob Marley said “We have to fulfil the Book”, but now the book has been shattered, thorn into pieces and thrown into different parts of the world. To gather that book together [to articulate, to re-imagine history], you must be attentive. You must be observant, you must see with your inner eyes.”
    Here, we return to the dispersal, the truncated cartography, a damaged, disparate and multi-contextual world within which our proactive movement engender its healing and, in turn, the restitution of consciousness.  
    When Onikeku speaks of the “wholeness of consciousness”, he speaks of a possible culmination of the Fanonian human being – those whose struggles, grit, defiance are transformed into a celebration of the imagination rather than an indictment. In other words, “we are trying to remember the future and rewrite the past.


    Duration: 103 mins.
    Host: Emeka Okereke 
    Guest: Qudus Onikeku
    Production: Atelier E.K Okereke / E.O Multimedia
    Photography: Kayode Oluwa
    Listen on: nkatapodcast.com
    Also on: Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Overcast, Deezer and more
    Join our community of Patrons: nkapodcast.com/patreon 


    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/nkatapodcast)

    • 1 hr 43 min
    EP09: "Water will always find its crack". Nkata with Ahmet Öğüt

    EP09: "Water will always find its crack". Nkata with Ahmet Öğüt

    Ahmet Öğüt (b.1981, Diyarbakir, Turkey) is a conceptual artist living and working in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He works with a broad range of media including video, photography, installation, drawing and printed media (Wikipedia)
    In the 9th Episode of Nkata: Art & Processes, Emeka Okereke and Öğüt discuss the concepts and thought processes behind his work. Ogut is what one might call a peripatetic artist – an artist whose practise relies on constant displacement from one location to the other.  It also involves an interplay of myriad mediums and materials. 
    Captured succinctly in the podcast is one of Öğüt’s ethos: artworks have afterlives; as such, they must not be isolated from their destiny. This reference to the animateness of art is further deduced from his belief that between art and life, there are no boundaries.  
    Although Öğüt had dreamt of becoming a renaissance painter, he ended up as a conceptual artist – a catch-all designation that does more to contain his ever-evolving and metamorphosing process than capture its entire scope. Weighed against his prolific artistic production, it comes as unconventional that he has no studio. His works begin from a concept and make their way across detours of unpredictability, ending up in exchanges and negotiations involving collaborators and host institutions. 
    You will appreciate his insight and detailed expounding of the importance of negotiation. As if that, in itself, is an act as much as an art. He is an intervener, and he allows himself to entertain the myriad forms and turns which the term “artistic intervention” could take. As such, his work is replete with metaphors, satires, sarcasm and paradoxes, all intersecting as if to suggest crossroads in subversive cartography. Yet, it is not always about objects. On the contrary, Öğüt begins the conversation by underscoring the fact that much of his work is inspired and materialised through encounters and collaborations. It is no wonder that, counted amongst his artistic outcomes, is The Silent University, which he passionately discussed in the podcast. 

    When asked by Okereke about what informs his displacement and way-of-being in the world, Öğüt responded with a recollection of a saying by an Armenian journalist: “Water always finds its crack”. The podcast conversation takes on the nature of water looking for its cracks as it meanders from Öğüt’s earlier days as an art student in Ankara and Istanbul to Amsterdam and Berlin –  two cities contending for attention whenever he is asked the habitual question: where are you based?
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    • 1 hr 20 min
    EP08: "If I write for them, it means I am removing myself from my source". Nkata with Niq Mhlongo

    EP08: "If I write for them, it means I am removing myself from my source". Nkata with Niq Mhlongo

    Niq Mhlongo (b. 1973, Soweto) is a South African writer born in Johannesburg. Today, he is considered "one of the most high-spirited, irreverent voices of post-apartheid South African literary scene".

    So far, he has four novels  and two short stories to his name:  Dog Eat Dog (2004), After Tears (2007), Way Back Home (2013),  Affluenza (2016), Soweto Under The Apricot Tree (2018), Paradise in Gaza (2020). He has also edited two collection of Essays: Black Tax, A Burden or Ubuntu (2019) and Joburg Noir (2020). In between his already illustrious and prolific practice, he is also the city editor for the Johannesburg Review of Books, while still finding time to mentor, young writers both in South Africa and beyond through workshops and lecture programs.

    What is most striking about his work is that while it retains all the attributes of a powerful literary work – articulation, poetry, constructive narrative; dealing with topical/relevant issues of the society, etc. – his works are also accessible. He writes for an audience much broader than the literate class which comprised of the middle class and upwards.

    All of this, and more, are expounded in this long-form podcast conversation with host Emeka Okereke. To understand Niq's creative language and disposition is to return over and over to the streets of Soweto from where his highly tactile and experiential journey towards becoming his kind of writer began. Soweto Jive, a groovy number by Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, sets the mood for the nearly two-hours long conversation.

    Niq's knack for anecdotes and personal stories leads the way all through. He makes a point to emphasize that, thanks to his eidetic memory, he can easily recall incidents which eventually feeds and informs his writings. In the conversation, he goes down memory lane while weaving pieces of incidents together to give the listener a sense of how his work – like many artists of his generation – sits at the transitory space between a past of pain and the present of hope where the Black South African can look at the horizon and conjure the possibility of "a future tense", as Shoshana Zuboff puts it.

    Towards the end of the conversation, he speaks extensively about Black Tax: A Burden or Ubuntu?, an anthology of essays by Twenty-six South African authors, also edited by Niq. This timely assemblage of voices attempts to ignite discussions around the meaning and place of responsibility as attributed to familial ties in the black South African reality. This book is Niq's first-ever collaborative project. According to him, it was a subject bigger than him, and thus requires the strength of numerous voices.

    If you know Niq Mhlongo's work, this conversation will offer a more expansive, informative, yet entertaining frame for better appraisal. Those encountering him for the first time will find that he continues in the tradition of many African artists whose encounter with art was underlined by remarkable coincidences which, in hindsight, could only be understood as a calling. 
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    • 1 hr 43 min
    EP07: "Our subalterns have not sold out; our youngsters have not sold out". Nkata with Shahidul Alam

    EP07: "Our subalterns have not sold out; our youngsters have not sold out". Nkata with Shahidul Alam

    Shahidul Alam (b.1955) is a Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher and social activist. He has been a photographer for more than 40 years. His life and work can invariably be summarised as a service to society, culture and humanity.  In 2014, he was awarded the Shilpakala Padak by the President of Bangladesh. In 2018 he received the Humanitarian Award from Lucie Awards. In the same year, he was named one of the  Times Persons of The Year by Time Magazine. 
    Alam founded the Drik Picture Library in 1989, the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka in 1998, “which has trained hundreds of photographers”,  and the Chobi Mela International Photography Festival in 1999. These platforms have been steadfastly sustained throughout these years. As such, they have become, in Alam’s words, the units straddling the three prongs – education, media, and culture – through which they have been able to exact pressure on the political sphere, therefore, instigating tangible change in the Bangladeshi reality through photography. 
    In August 2018, Shahidul Alam was arrested and detained shortly after giving an interview on Al Jazeera during which he criticised the government's violent response to the 2018 Bangladesh road safety protests. There was a global call for his release led by many International humanitarian organisations, news media and notable personalities. 
    In the 7th Episode of Nkata Podcast: Art & Processes, Emeka Okereke visited Alam in his home in Dhanmondi, Dhaka in Bangladesh – same apartment from which he was arrested. They had an extensive conversation about his life and work starting from his childhood to his parents, family and dedication to social justice in Bangladesh. 
    He also touched on his special relationship with his partner – his best friend and his fiercest critic – Rahnuma Ahmed, who is a journalist in her own right. Shahidul owes much of his continued belief in his cause;  its strategic carefulness of self-care as a form of protest (as inferred by Audre Lourde) to Rahnuma. He made a point to note that the name “Rahnuma”  is Persian for “the one who shows you the way”. 
    Listen to the full episode on nkatapodcast.com
    Also available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Tune In and more. Subscribe on your preferred platform of listening to get notifications on subsequent episodes.

    There are timestamps to help the listener navigate different parts of the podcast. 


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    • 1 hr 39 min
    EP06: "My father always told me that only Love is above the law" Nkata with Uche James Iroha

    EP06: "My father always told me that only Love is above the law" Nkata with Uche James Iroha

    One cannot exhaustively and informatively review the history of contemporary Nigerian photography without frequently returning to the name Uche James Iroha (B.1972, Enugu). Since 1999, Uche’s ideology, activities and support for younger photographers, have paved the way for the flourishing of Nigerian photography in no small measure.

    Yet the temperament, attitude and principles he brought to photography preceded him. Before Uche was another hero of Nigerian art: Chief James Iroha, his late father. He was popularly known as the creator of one of the longest-running sitcoms in the history of Nigeria, The New Masquerade. Created to help bring some solace and comic relief to the survivors of the Nigeria-Biafra war, the sitcom would outdo itself to become a foundational source of societal consciousnesses for many of those born in the 80s – the first batch of millennials who came of age at the turn of the 21st century.

    Thus it is no surprise that when Uche encountered photography in the late 90s, he could not but regard it as a potent tool for social commentary.

    In this conversation with Emeka Okereke, Uche James Iroha – in his usual manner of illustrating lofty concepts with correlated anecdotes – expands on his life, his convictions, motivations, and naturally, how photography acts as a conduit.

    Given that the conversation took place in Bamako, in 2019, during the 12th Bamako photography encounters, he recalls the indelible impact the photography festival had on him and his colleagues when, at the invitation of Akinbode Akinbiyi, they participated in the 2nd edition in 2001. The 2001 Bamako outing eventually led to the founding of one of the foremost photography collectives in Africa, Depth Of Field.

    This podcast gives an up-close glimpse of a visual artist, thinker and activist who stands, however unobtrusively, at the hinge of history and continues to work for it. It is an ode to one of his catchiest lines: “history is not absent-minded”.

    This Episode is backed by Goethe Institut Munich.

    Want to support the podcast program? Check out our Patreon page at nkatapodcast.com/patreon


    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/nkatapodcast)

    • 1 hr 12 min
    EP05: "Not only are we ahead of time, we are classic" Nkata with Nontsikelelo Veleko

    EP05: "Not only are we ahead of time, we are classic" Nkata with Nontsikelelo Veleko

    Nontsikelelo Veleko (b. 1977) is a South African photographer most notably recognised for her depiction of black identity, urbanisation and fashion in post-apartheid South Africa. Veleko studied photography at the Market Theatre Photo Workshop(1999–2004).
    In 2006, her photographs were part of the group exhibition, Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York; curated by Okwui Enwezor. There, the bold and lively portraits depicting South Africa street style from her series “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” attracted a great deal of attention, shifting previous perceptions of Africa as a whole on an international scale. Alongside this, Veleko has also implemented clothing ‘to deliberately challenge assumptions of identity based on appearances and historical background’. 
    Veleko’s work presents a strong statement of a younger generation that is loud, self-expressive and daring; a collection of youth she strongly relates to. Such sentiments are evident in the photographs resulting from what she considers to be a ‘collaborative process’. 
    For the 5th episode of Nkata, Emeka Okereke travelled to meet with Veleko in Nîmes, in the South of France, where she is currently based. Their conversation starts with the recollection of some precursory events foundational to her journey as an artist. 
    She speaks of how her father prepared her mind from an earlier age, and by that gave her a sense of independence so rare for young girls/women at the time. How photographing graffiti on the streets of Johannesburg in the early 2000s; going to Switzerland for her first-ever residency program inspired her to turn towards street/urban fashion as would later be seen in her one of her most prominent bodies of work.
    She illustrates her response to the stimuli of street imagery in a succinct recount of a certain photograph she made: A graffiti on the streets of Johannesburg reads “I am not afraid”. However, the “A” of the “Afraid” was cracked. I found that interesting. Because I thought to myself: that’s how I am, a woman, with a camera, alone, photographing on the street of Johannesburg. I affirm that I am not afraid, yet there is a crack somewhere: I am afraid.
    The conversation settles on her arrival in France, and subsequently Nîmes, a small but ancient city in the South of France. How with her presence, and in collaboration with good friends and colleagues, she has begun the work of opening the small town to African photography starting with her home country South Africa. 
    She takes Emeka Okereke through the streets of Nimes while discussing new bodies of work, projects and prospects stemming from reinvigorated energy after a long career pause. 
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/nkatapodcast)

    • 1 hr 33 min

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