The Earth is a Beehive
Giffin Square to Fordham Park
The Earth is a Beehive
Processional performance from Giffin Square to Fordham Park
Midday onwards on 25 Sep 2022
With participation from: Edmund Waller year 4 pupils; Turnham Academy year 4 & 5 pupils; Watergate School pupils, and members of Woodpecker Youth Group
For over two decades, Nigerian artist and activist Jelili Atiku, alongside working with drawing sculpture and multimedia installation, has created performances in public spaces bringing together indigenous (Yoruba) traditions with political activism. His work addresses a wide range of pressing contemporary concerns from human rights abuses to conditions of postcolonialism in order to move viewers towards acting on individual and collective change.
Atiku’s processional performances often address themes of ecological destruction, migration, human rights, decolonisation and West African mythology. Continuing working with these themes for this year’s festival in his new commission, The Earth is a Beehive, Atiku leads a procession through Deptford with young people, local residents and artists with a central focus on ‘The Energy of Things’ and ‘Ijele’ Masquerade. Ijele is the Masquerade of all Masquerades. It is the most colourful and largest Masquerade in Sub-Saharan Africa and indigenous to the Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria. Atiku connects this particular Maquerade to Deptford’s slave trade history and the legacy of Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian slave who in 1762 was sold by his master in Deptford and after purchasing his freedom in 1766 became a renowed writer and abolisonist and was known to be of Igbo indigene.
The parade’s title references the African proverb: ‘the earth is a beehive, we all enter by the same door,’ a reflection on collectivity and coming together for the wellbeing and celebration of diverse communities. Participants come together to embody Atiku’s observations of Deptford—its histories, as well as elements of migration, market and resources most evident in foodstuffs sold and traded in these spaces.
The parade is developed in collaboration with local artists Evan Wong; Deniz Ünal; and Isabel Castro-Jung.
Jelili Atiku is a Nigerian performance artist with political concerns for human rights and justice. Through drawing, installation, sculpture, photography, video and performance (live art), Jelili has put his art at the service of the prevailing concerns of our times. He is presently the artistic Director of AFiRIperFOMA– a collective of performance artists in Africa; and Chief Coordinator of Advocate for Human Rights Through Art (AHRA). He is 2015 Prince Claus Laureates and was wrongly accused, arrested, detained in prison and trialled on the instance of his performance in public space in 2016. He was artist in residence/assistant professor at the Department of Africana Studies/Brown Arts Initiative in Brown University, Providence, USA in 2018.