Meet the Nigerian Smithsonian scholar empowering artists through game theory

Spread the love

By Ihechi Enyinnaya

Nigerian Smithsonian Artist and Research Fellow, Modupeola Fadugba, will show case her new artist-led initiative The Artist’s Algorithm, in Senegal in 2022 and Harlem in 2023.

After three years in the making, The Artist’s Algorithm is a new series of exhibitions, essays, talks, games, performances, mentorship programmes, murals, and videos which aims to shed light on problems in education, politics, and governance through art. This new initiative builds on the core tenets of Fadugba’s award winning debut work, The People’s Algorithm – an interactive game installation in which players explore ways to win within the framework of Nigeria’s pressing unemployment and educational crisis. Influenced by six years spent working in research, policy, and administration within Nigeria’s education sector, this participatory game installation invites audience members to confront statistical realities faced by Nigerian students, teachers, and policy makers.
The People’s Algorithm was awarded El Anatsui’s Outstanding Production Prize and a 2016 Dakar Biennale Grand Prize from Senegal’s Minister of Communication.
Why Nations Win is the inaugural exhibition in The Artist’s Algorithm Series. It serves as an overview for a multi-year, multimedia project activating the past three years of Fadugba’s socially engaged research, evolving studio practice, and resulting artworks. For its first presentation at Alara before travelling to Senegal in 2022 and Harlem in 2023, the exhibition will embrace an introductory, open-studio context including 20 works on paper and canvas, a video, and game installation accompanied by a live programme.
The idea for The Arist’s Algorithm was sparked when Modupeola was locked inside the National Museum of African Art overnight. Modupeola realised how little she knew about African culture, and was startled by the difference in outcomes for first and third world countries. She wondered: “Why do some nations win and others lose?” Why are some stories more dominant than others, and how do we redefine what it means to win, to be celebrated, and have enduring representation? Modupeopla dumped the contents of her bag, rearranged them, and reimagined them. The Artist Algorithm is the way Modupeola would reimagine how art can be used to solve problems through education, using what she already knows.