Arts & Aesthetics

This Research Section addresses the muliplicity of artworks. Hence, instead of taking given unities in aesthetics for granted as our starting point, we will focus on ongoing processes of creation, mediation and interpretation as well as how artworks shape and are shaped by material and social conditions.

The central objective of this RS is to provide a better understanding of the actual processes of making art(s) and their ways of relating to the world, by conceiving of artworks as multi-layered, and as having their own ways of reflecting upon being in the world. The RS will approach (the) making art(s) and aesthetics through three interrelated lines of investigation:

a) artists’ practices and audience perceptions.

b) circulation and configuration.

c) the materiality of artworks.


  • Dr. Patrick OLOKO



  • Prof. Dr. Adepeju LAYIWOLA
  • Dr. Oluwatoyin OLOKODANA-JAMES

Ongoing Research Project

  • Rethinking the “Informal” and Mainstreaming African Popular Arts and Entertainment.

Project Leader:

Dr. Patrick Oloko.

Team Members:

Dr. Feyi Ademola-Adeoye.

Dr. Peter Oni.

Omoh Giwa.

Summary of the Approved Project:

In this project, we engage with a variety of entertainment forms such as stand-up comedy, hip hop music, spoken-word poetry and musicalized histories and biographies as popular entertainment ‘forms’ that are reshaping the cultural economies of African urban centres. Though the appeal of these forms cut across social and literacy strata, often drawing a huge congregation of consumers at performance sites, they are often categorised as ‘popular arts’, a term of informality that obscures their capacities and promotes a reluctance of the academy to engage with them as repositories of social knowledge. This project assumes that these overlooked and understudied forms should be examined and documented, with a view to integrating them into the African Studies curriculum. Our overall objective is to interrogate their ‘informalisation’ by showing their capacity to delineate and express Africa’s everyday experience of a multipolar world and the multiple material and non-material conditions of its people. Therefore we seek to collate, characterise, curate and archive them in their various primary or digitised forms as sound, images, photographs and performances as resources for inclusion in African studies curricula of African Academies. Three dominant questions guide our investigation; (1) how do we understand and account for the relationally resilient and subversive behaviour of ‘informal’ entertainment forms being consumed by audiences that cut across multiple social, linguistic and literacy strata in African urban domains?; (2) how are the varieties of euphonic, visual and performative renditions flourishing in African cities constituted as relational and reflexive afterlives of the African everyday? How are these ‘forms’ reshaping the arts and aesthetics economies of the African urban spaces?; (3) how do arts and artefacts aid cultural transfer and travel and offer a pathway for a new awareness of kinship and transnational connections in Africa?

To underscore the ACC focus on relational multiplicity, we focus on two national contexts, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, as research sites. Two factors account for this. 1) Given that a video/ film culture that has come to underline Africa’s contribution to global screen theory and practice is already firmly rooted in these contexts, it would be productive to follow that trail in order to establish the possibility of other ‘informal’ arts gaining a comparative and reflexive cultural and structural cachets in the same domains.

Links with RS: Arts & Aesthetics.

Contact:                     English, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria,

  • Rethinking the Artistic Trajectory of African Women Artists.

Project Leader:

Prof. Dr. Adepeju Layiwola.

Team Members:

Dr. Olalekan Balogun.

Gladys Kalichini (Rhodes University, SA).

Tobenna Okwuosa.

Dr. Jimoh Ganiyu.

Dr. Akande Abiodun.

Hope Afoke Orivri.

Odun Orimolade.

Summary of the Approved Project:

This research identifies select women artist’s work that will be studied and documented, which will, in turn, create an alternative archive of women artists in Africa. Artists like Dorothy Amenuke, Fatric Bewong, Tracy Thompson, and Adjo Kisser (Ghana), Victoria Ekpei, Chris Funke Ifeta, Kaltume Bulama Gana (Nigeria) and Agness Buya Yombwe (Zambia) have been identified.  However, in this phase of research, we identify three African women artists; Agness Buya Yombwe (Zambia), Kaltume Bulama  Gana (Nigeria) and  Elizabeth Olowu (Nigeria).

The research promises to provide extensive scholarly engagement with these artists. It is essential to document not only contemporary women artists but those of the earlier modernist period. To write a truly global history of art, the work of women must be an integral part of this discourse.  This proposal is structured to add to the growing body of knowledge about African-based women artists. The research is structured through workshops and extensive fieldwork in the west and southern Africa regions. 

Links with RS: Knowledges, Arts & Aesthetics.

Contact:                     Art History, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria,

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