Njideka Akunyili, artist

“I remember seeing Coming to America for the first time with my sisters and brother.  It was a rare treat, because our only TV station, NTA, showed one movie a week.  Even though, at that point, we had never left Nigeria, the jokes still resonated with us because we grew up in a small town but had gone to the big city, Lagos, for holidays.  Coming to America was a hit in NIgeria when it came out.  I think it was a success because it taped into something that is universal – everyone understands the comedy of errors that comes with moving from one place to a very different place.  It is hard to pick a single favorite scene…There’s the scene from the basketball game, when Akeem goes to the bathroom and his fellow Zamundan recognizes him and can’t stop bowing.  The rose bearers and how hard Akeem tried to be un-princely always make me laugh…but the thing that keeps me cracking up is the name of the country, Zamunda.  It is the perfect made up African country name.  It’s gibberish, but sounds authentic because it brings to mind Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, etc.  You couldn’t make up a better one.”

Njideka’s work will be featured in the Bronx Museum‘s “Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial”, which runs through September 8, 2013, and at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London for the “Cinematic Visions: Painting at the Edge of Reality” presentation that runs through August 3, 2013.  She has previously shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem.  To see more of her work, visit her online portfolio.

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