University of Pittsburgh
United States of America
Shelagh Patterson is currently a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh and a Scholar/Artist-in-Residence at the Urban Issues Institute, Essex County College, Newark, NJ.
Dominant perceptions of mobilities between the United States and Nigeria figure the U.S. as an desirable destination and Nigeria as either a place to escape from or a place to exploit. The creative work of husband-wife collaborators Mendi+Keith Obadike challenges and complicates dominant representations of those power dynamics by developing strategies of resistance in their new media and sound art.
The paper “Strategies for Resistance in the New Media and Sound Art of Mendi+Keith Obadike” analyzes two pieces by Mendi+Keith. The intermedia suite “4-1-9, or You Can’t View a Masquerade by Standing in One Place” is a meditation on the 4-1-9 scam letters that target Westerners with a request for assistance in transferring funds out of Nigeria. This interactive suite which exists on the internet, as a performance, and as an installation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, invites the reader to be a player who can see the masquerade of scams, identity, and tragedy. “African Metropole: Sonic City Lagos,” a soundscape commissioned for Ramapo College, transformed the white-space of the Pascal Gallery in suburban New Jersey into a portal to Lagos with an installation of speakers that played back sounds recorded on the streets of Lagos and a recited poem about the city.
Through using Chela Sandoval’s theorization of differential cognitive mapping the ability to map and remap terrain in relation to shifting power, this paper argues that Mendi+Keith develop and teach strategies of resistance (seeing the masquerade and bursting of self) to the dominant perceptions of mobilities between the United States and Nigeria.