Native Maqari | Leftovers: An Almajir Project
The Arthouse Foundation presented Leftovers: An Almajir project, an immersive installation by artist Native Maqari undertook during his three-month artist residency in Lagos. Incorporating sculptural installation, video, photography and live performance, this project is a culmination of a collaboration between the artist and Qudus Onikeku and Simon Rouby, as well as musicians Brymo, Adey Omotade and Jose Mohammed.
Leftovers is an installation that casts a solemn glance at migration on an internal scale. It is a reflection on the state of being deracinated from a geographical, social or cultural environment, acquiring as a result an indelible identity; that of a migrant. Staging this rather global discussion on the national level of a country trying to come to terms with an internal migration question aims to provide a more intimate platform for the dialogue.
Almajiri is a Hausa word for ‘migrant’ derived from the Arabic term ‘Al-muhajir’ for the same. It is also the million faceless children (aged between five and fifteen years) that were sent away from rural homes of Northern Nigeria into bigger towns to beg their way through Qur’anic schools. Their grey silhouettes are an integral part of most northern cityscape. They float by unnoticeable until they become a nuisance for city traffic with their incessant begging.
Recently there has been an outcry from policy makers in a few northern states to outlaw the Almajiri, a less audible voice on what shall become of him once banned. This work invites one to stop and consider the issue from the vantage point of a seven year old almajiri. We owe at least that much to them. They were given an empty bowl and a wooden tablet and sent on an oblique and archaic quest. They were told to go learn one book at all costs, that everything they ever needed to know is in it. Central to this installation is their most earnest attempts at it. The fading scrawls on the fifty three tablets is all they left behind. The installation demands of the viewer to lower herself/himself to the height of those whose memories it contains.
Born in Zaria, Nigeria and based in Paris, France, Native Maqari is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans video, installation, performance, painting and drawing. His recent projects have united performance and video to create in situ videos, with live performances at Villa Medici in Rome, Palazzo Lenzi in Florence and Maison des Arts in Paris in 2017.