Wilfred Ukpong is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, researcher, and activist. A long-term collaborator with Autograph, we supported the artist in 2021 to produce a new 30-minute, performance based film work. Earth Sounds was shown as part of Ukpong's new solo exhibition BLAZING CENTURY 1, organised by the Institut Français du Nigéria.
In Earth Sounds, the artist, flanked by two masked women carrying heraldic black flags, embarks on a ritual journey across a narrow, sheltered waterway. He takes a shamanic role, invoking spiritual energies to protect the endangered ecological landscape from crude oil spillage in the environmentally devastated oil-rich Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta incorporates Ukpong’s homeland in Southern Nigeria. Once a major producer of palm oil for British colonisers, the territory is considered the mainstay of the Nigerian economy for its large oil reserves and its rich biodiversity due to the presence of rivers, mangroves, freshwater forests, and marine estuaries. In recent years, the region has been at the centre of environmental justice campaigns, with concerns over pollution caused by major spills and flares at the hands of oil and gas industry giants.
Earth Sounds was created for Autograph's 2021 event in collaboration with the artist, Composing a Cause, which used film, speculative soundscapes, performance and conversation to build a visual and sonic relationship with the Niger Delta.
is an interdisciplinary artist who incorporates a studio-based artistic practice with connective social engagement, tackling pertinent social issues with community participation and intervention. His long-term project in the Niger Delta, Blazing Century 1, received a special grant from the Prince Claus Fund and has been exhibited in international group shows in London, Lorient and The Hague. His film Future World won the Golden City Gates Excellence Award at ITB Berlin in 2018. The film has also been screened at Mash Johannesburg and David Krut Projects, as well as to the Senate of Nigeria in order to encourage a dialogue about environmental change in the Niger Delta. Ukpong is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford Brookes University, and he received his BA and Master’s Degree from Ecole Supérieure d’Art Lorient, France.
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Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list