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LÁOLÚ Channels Gods On Earth In Latest Project 'Time To Heal'

The Nigerian artist's NFT collab with Djimon Hounsou runs from November 10th to 15th and urges us to recognize the past, celebrate the present, and project a future drenched in our rich African history.

Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Láolú's latest project is one centered around the beauty and grace of the human body. The visual art series, titled Time To Heal, consists of five unique portraits featuring Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou as a canvas onto which Láolú applied his famous body art known as the "Sacred Art of the Orí". The body designs have been featured in many of Láolú's exhibitions; as well as on Dj Tunez's "Energy" single cover; the artwork for US personality Charlamagne Tha God's Tha God's Honest Truth show; and more.

Time To Heal looks at the artist paint Yoruba patterns and symbols related to alertness, compassion, and the quest for freedom onto Djimon's head, right hand, and left shoulder. The outcome is a bright image of the actor as an African Warrior of Light. (In a press release, the Beninese-American actor says, "I feel this compelling need, this inherent obligation to give back to my continent, to my people, and to champion the idea of reconciliation and reconnection.") The artwork series will be sold in a premium auction on the Binance NFT Marketplace between November 10 and 15, 2021, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Djimon Hounsou Foundation.

The visual artwork comes to the world as the artist's debut in the NFT market. An NFT, (Non-Fungible Token) is a piece of art that is stored as a unique digital file hosted on a server and then sold through encrypted blockchains.The NFT's are acquired through auctions (sold in cryptocurrency) and the highest bidder is crowned as the owner of the "one-of-one" piece.

In this project, Láolú manifests his beloved 'Sacred Art of Ori' through Djimon's body, but asks viewers to look at the artwork and ask themselves, "What would I look like as a God?" The series focuses on empowering young Africans to honor their heritage, as well as bringing them closer to the history and stories of gods and goddesses from Yoruba mythology. "You're not just looking at art on the walls of a museum", he says, "You are the museum. You are the art, you embody it."

We spoke with the Brooklyn-based artist about his come-up, his ability to stay present and true to himself, and taking his designs to space.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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