I was at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Yaba on Saturday for the PAGES event for the month of March. It was tagged: The World is Flat. Are you shaking your head in question of the title? Yes, it was the title that also nursed my decision to make it for the event, I wanted to know, how come again that the world is flat?
Okay for those who don’t know, here’s a little background into PAGES. It is a monthly event hosted by CCA with the aim of understanding our world and ourselves better through the arts. Usually, there is a convergence of art in diverse forms: painting, literature, map making, photography with the aim of giving literary interpretation to the works on exhibition. The event had an ‘okay’ audience for an art event; to think that it was not featuring any of Nigeria’s young music artists (my opinion) that's what attracts 'Naija' youth, am I lying?
It was an opportunity to see the world from a new perspective and take brief lessons in architecture, cartography, history, literature and also set me thinking about the process of writing.
Johanne, the curator of the exhibition introduced the theme of the exhibition and answered questions from a very inquisitive audience; there was a book reading and discussion from Onyeka Nwelue’s novel The Abyssinian Boy.
The the questions started sprouting from all corners: What is the place of knowledge about a setting in the making of a work of literature? Where does reality stop and idealism begin? Does a writer need to have a perfect knowledge of the place that he/she is writing about? If yes, how was JK Rowlings able to write her best-selling Harry Potter series? If yes, how was Chimamanda Adichie able to pull off an Orange prize-winning Half of a Yellow Sun which is about the Nigerian civil war when she was not a part of the war?
If no, how does a writer stay true to describing what a place is like at any point in time, bearing in mind that places change? If no, where is the place of creativity even when making fiction out of reality?
What is your take?