Wilfred Ukpong Empowers Nigerian Youths With Art and Film Project


Aside Oil and Gas, Nigeria’s economy is hugely dependent on sports and entertainment and the youths are the hope for a better country. A multi-disciplinary social practice artist, Dr. Wilfred Ukpong, has taken up the responsibility of contributing to his country by empowering Nigerian youths with a form of sustainable environmental art and film project.

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Wilfred Ukpong is a renowned Oxford-based Nigerian scholar, who returned home to improve his people, after several years of working with Blazing Century 1, an innovative social art project focused on environmental sustainability and youth empowerment and development. The young man intends to bridge the gap between art and social life with this very important individual art project.

For Mr. Ukpong, his works of arts are beyond aesthetics, but that of creating direct impact on the society, hence becoming an intervention system, especially for communities where oil explorations are being carried out. Asides the damage done by oil spillage, most environments are littered with giant self-floating hose deployed between oil rig and FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) Vessel for offloading crude oil. This Blazing Century Project will help clean the environment by recycling and re-purposing these materials through art objects.

Wilfred Ukpong
Youths working on an art installation piece in Eket

The materials will be recycled through the various works created for the film, performance, and art exhibition aspects of the project. Wilfred Ukpong  plans to achieve this by engaging youths and training them on how to create artworks, props and costumes for the film, as this will serve as the empowerment part of the project.

Some people have been trained already in stage performance, sewing, make up, design, sculpting since the inception of Blazing Century in 2010. But with the setting of the Art Future Lab, which will be in situated in Akwa Ibom, Lagos states and possibly across the Niger-Delta States, more youths will have the opportunity of not just learning an art but also have a means of livelihood.

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“BC1: Future World,” the project art, film and sound installation exhibition will be shown on a floating barge compartment – designed by the artist – in a coastal shore location in Eket, Akwa Ibom and also in Marina Waters in Lagos Island. It will feature fifty rare innovative artworks produced between 2012 and 2016. The artworks are made with a range of waste plastic materials salvaged from the oil and gas sector during Ukpong’s environmental clean-up workshops in the Niger-Delta.

Wilfred Ukpong
BC1- Finished Installation piece set for exhibition

The show will be complemented with a series of performance art events catalogue publication, poetry readings and talks that will offer an interesting space for reflection, learning, dialogue and entertainment. Other parts of this creative initiative includes a workshop (Youth of Nigeria as Artists of the Future), music/sound project (Red and Black Album), feature film (Rebirth), art exhibition (Future World), performance actions (Rebirth of a Century), and poetry (Bound by Blood).