Rahima Gambo: Alternative Central Area Locations

13 Jun-8 Sep 2024

London SE11 5RH


Alternative Central Area Locations brings together new and evolving works by Rahima Gambo that examine her diasporic relationship to Abuja, Nigeria. Using archival records and blueprints as source material, the exhibition is envisaged as a form of cartography, drifting from the past into a present and possible future.  

Gambo moved to Abuja as an infant just as the city’s identity was forming. A so-called “planned city”, Abuja was constructed throughout the 1980s after the Nigerian government sought to build a new capital city that would replace Lagos. A conglomerate of five American firms (collectively known as the International Planning Associates) determined that Abuja would be built on the Gwagwa plains, over 8,000 km away, due to the site’s central location and ethnic neutrality.  

In her exhibition at Gasworks, Gambo merges these histories with glimpses of her childhood and her present-day migrant life in the form of print, video, sculpture, and sound. Scattered collections of sketches, aerial-views, legislative plans, and corporate language are projected around the gallery onto, and through, screens produced from rough industrial materials. They offer personal speculations on the decision-making processes, the omissions, variations, and unforeseen needs that a city plan evokes. 
Stories and lateral connections flow throughout the exhibition. Origami boats constructed from cement bags sit upon mounds of earth. Gambo took inspiration from the so-called “Cement Armada” (1974–1980), a moment when cement-laden ships arrived en masse at Lagos’s port during the height of the 1970s oil boom, gridlocking the waterways for several years. Stacked steel plenum boxes, once used to control the circulation of air, but now removed from their original context appear as image-making devises; something between a camera and all-seeing eye. Connections are also drawn to ongoing building developments in London, specifically the building works adjacent to Gasworks that will turn a brownfield site, formerly a working yard for the South Gas Network, into homes for thousands of new tenants. 
Alternative Central Area Locations reveals the many lines, centres, patterns and textures in a city, exploring a drifting network of ideas held together by Gambo’s urban wanderings. Improvisational and open-ended, the exhibition proposes alternative sites and peripheral seeing and thinking as a way of mediating urban life. 

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Rahima Gambo: Alternative Central Area Locations press release