Sokari Douglas Camp (Nigerian, born 1958) Bike 2000 185 x 268 x 75cm (72 13/16 x 104 3/4 x 29 1/2in)
Lot 81W
Sokari Douglas Camp
(Nigerian, born 1958)
Bike 2000 185 x 268 x 75cm (72 13/16 x 104 3/4 x 29 1/2in)
£20,000 - 30,000
US$ 27,000 - 40,000


Africa Now

21 May 2014, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
Sokari Douglas Camp (Nigerian, born 1958)
Bike 2000
steel, perspex and electric motor
185 x 268 x 75cm (72 13/16 x 104 3/4 x 29 1/2in)


    London, Morley Gallery,'Knots of the Human Heart', 2000;
    Manchester, The Lowry Arts Centre,'Imagined Steel', 2002-03;

    Sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp was born in the town of Buguma in 1958, part of the oil-rich Niger Delta in Southern Nigeria. She attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1979, before completing a BA in Sculpture from the Central School of Art and Design. She went on to gain her MA at the Royal College of Art in London in 1986.

    Her early work explores the traumatic and tragic effects of the oil industry on her homeland. She bends, slices and stitches steel into life-size forms. Her memorial to the executed Niger Delta activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, commissioned in 2006, is a full scale living replica of a steel bus; inscribed on the piece is the proclamation 'I accuse the oil companies of practising genocide against the Ogoni'(the ethnic group most affected by the oil exploits in the Niger delta region). In the piece Pelican a mourning couple hold up a portrait of the bird, in the manner of a traditional Kalabari funeral rite of Douglas Camp's birth place. The bird, as a casualty of the oil industry is treated like a familial bereavement.

    Oil concerns are a prevalent theme in our current history: the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico sparked billions of dollars in victim compensation to the Southern United States, and apologies from the corporation responsible to a Western population. However this was all too close to home for Doulas Camp who knows of the long-time destruction wrought by oil 'imperialism' which has ravaged generation upon generation of people living in Nigeria's oil regions, with no such financial settlement or ownership of guilt from the companies responsible.

    In particular Douglas Camp's hometown of Buguma in the Niger Delta is exposed to intrusive infrastructure, gas flares and fire that resemble the 'land of the midnight sun.' Her piece Close to My Heart depicts a traditionally-dressed woman holding up a photograph of such an explosion. Part of her steel 'sculpture series' these works use representations of everyday objects and people to ask questions about the political and personal effects of oil spills and racism.

    In Bike 2000 there is a less accusatory tone and the reference to oil is not the central political concern to the work. The family ride an oil dependant, over-sized motorbike: the 'political diagnostic' has instead become integrated with the idea of family and notions of home. Douglas Camp has said that she thinks "it is important to document the strength of my African beliefs in my work and I do not get the chance to discuss this aspect of my work because my audience is western". She has talked about how, as a African women based in London, but with an unstable and unsafe 'home' back in Nigeria, she now draws strength and comfort from a far less geographical sense of home.

    Instead she finds nuture in specific people, her friends and family scattered around the world, and her Kalabari beliefs that give her a sense of self, not of definite place. The personal thus becomes political. She says "My work in the last twenty years has been about my life's experience: an African woman living and working in London. Bike 2000 is a major work that has political concerns."

    Bike 2000 brings the life of a motorcycle as a form of transport for an entire family, which is common in Africa culture, to a Western audience who understand motorcycle culture as form of transport for the individual.

    "The idea behind the sculpture is that a familiar object like this is used in lots of different ways throughout the world and it is a parallel life of the world that makes ordinary objects fascinating to me."

    Douglas Camp poignantly transports another life of both the object and people into the gallery literally by motorcycle. However the oil-dependant motorcycle is also a symbol of the instability of her hometown in a political sense. The piece strikes a balance between emotive and challenging. These are "issues read in metal".

    N. Ocran, Sokari Douglas Camp: Steel Sculptures, (Douglas Camp Productions, 2010) pp. 4-8

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this is a W lot and will be removed to Bonhams Park Royal Warehouse after the sale. This lot will be available for collection from 9.30 on Friday 23 May 2014.
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