Nigerian artist creates rotting food exhibit to warn about coronavirus

2021-02-06 18:44:16
Nigerian artist creates rotting food exhibit to warn about coronavirus

Nigerian artist Olufela Omokeko has created a rotting exhibit to encourage people to obey measures that will stop the spread of the coronavirus.

He carefully arranges red, yellow and green peppers on wooden boards hanging from nets in a bare room.

The fresh peppers will rot during the lifespan of the exhibition in Lagos. The 30-year-old artist said the decay reflects the food wasted during lockdowns last year.

"I created this art space as a reflection of the scarcity... and numerous challenges that we experienced at the early stage of the pandemic," Omokeko said.

Lockdowns were imposed from late March until early May last year in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, and the capital, Abuja. The restrictions, coupled with a ban on nationwide interstate travel, disrupted supply chains which led to widespread hunger, while food rotted in fields or at depots.

"I don't want us to go back to that stage again and my only advice is for the masses to use their face masks just to avoid another lockdown," he said.

He fears authorities may enforce more restrictions as the country grapples with a second wave of COVID-19 infections that has seen the number of cases rise sharply in recent weeks.

Public health officials have repeatedly warned that Nigerians are failing to heed guidance on observing social distancing and wearing masks. Many opt to wear masks around their chin, rather than over their mouth and nose.

Omokeko hopes the sight of his rotting peppers, oozing liquids and giving off a pungent smell, will provide a visceral warning of what may happen if safety advice is ignored.

"I'm not wasting this material," he said. "I'm using it to raise the consciousness of the masses."

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