ShortSharpShot, a “Creative Galaxy…a hotspot for fantastic art, delightful words and a blend of both,” launched the #IWriteArt Artist+ Writer Instagram creative contest in January 2016. The concept is basic: a visual artist submits an image (excluding photography), and a writer submits a 300-word (or less) story, each complementing the other. Winner takes N200,000 (to be halved by both).
This month, a shortlist of 15 entries was released on the website. Before the winning entry is announced on 19th March, 2016, I took a looksee of the shortlisted entries, and realised these five stood out as my faves.
#5. ENTRY 13: DEFYING DIFFERENCE
The art is visually stunning: the fusion of a girl’s face with a tiger’s, as well as silhouettes of birds/nature. Looking at the piece alone evokes a feeling of serenity, stillness, but one that suggests a hint of fierceness lurking beneath. The accompanying prose suggests exactly this, telling the story of Bititi, a girl forced to join a rebel group, who planned an escape with her friend, Lami, but eventually had to leave her behind after realizing he was pregnant with a rebel’s child. Now Bititi, “inspired by the strength and bravery of a tiger,” will go forth and do great things. Good stuff.
#4. ENTRY 14:
A woman who’s physically abused by her husband rambles to herself in this entry, daydreaming of liberation, of the day she’d finally get to say good riddance. Alas, this is not to be, as the last line of the story suggests: “It is his kind they leave, but a girl can only dream.” This is nailed by the art which, though rendered in pencil, aptly captures the absence of hope, a situation which sadly plagues our traditionally patriarchial African society.
#3. ENTRY 2: SCARIFICATIONS
This piece manages to evoke two complementary reactions: funny and sad. In it, a young man with deep tribal marks etched into his cheeks seeks affection, and fails to find it. The fiction interlaces humour (“Sometimes I’m called ‘sergeant’ because I bear the stripes of a policeman’s rank on my cheeks”) with a good dose of empathic despair (“Who are they to offer pity? What do they have that I lack…last girl I dared to was disgusted and screamed obscenities at me…And so, I’m yet to have my first girlfriend.”) @alexwrites’ specific verbage (He clambers up the … and squeezes past…) paints great mental pictures. The art too is fantastically done, making good use of the rule of thirds to place the subject’s best features on the focus lines. @stormterry is a good artist.
#2. ENTRY 12: THE ESCAPE
Of all the art entries, I’d say this offers the most mystery. A woman in the middle of a river, carrying her baby in one hand and a broken bottle in the other. Around her is rain and a hailstorm and…blood. Can you say, intrigue?
The story is intriguing as well, about Ivara, who escapes with her baby (earmarked for a sacrifice to appease a bloodthirsty god), and has to kill the boatman who refuses to take her across the river in order to get away. It’s a story about defiance, will and going lengths to achieve. Ivara’s bared teeth and fierce grip capture this to the letter in the art. 100% in sync.
#1. ENTRY 11:
I’d say this is my favourite, mostly because of the art, though the story does itself justice as well. The visual art is one that strikes immediately. In it, a shackled person dares to hope by drawing a key, making hope out of nothing, even though it’s false hope. It’s a message by the artist to the viewer, who immediately knows that the subject’s effort is futile, evoking the response, “You know that key won’t open the padlock, right?” It’s clever, and I like clever.
The story tells of a wife who’s constantly sexually abused by her husband, but is held down by the weight of society’s frown on non-succumbing wives and her dependence on him for financial support. She plans to kill him as a final resort, and though there is a moment of light–just like the hope of drawing a key–where she almost succeeds. But he is stronger and overpowers her, and all hope is squashed like a paper key unable to open a steel padlock.
The combination of visual art and story is layered and prods at the deepest, coldest corners of being human. Art that does that, however it’s presented, is good art.
That’s it. My five personal faves. Not like I expect them to win or anything (because art is only relative) or that the other ten aren’t good (all fifteen are fantastic entries), but that if I were asked at gunpoint to pick five, I would pick these.
Also note that none of these writers or visual artists asked me to write this review. I wrote this review because I’m a writer; it’s what I do. I’m an art lover too, so there, all goodies in the bag.
Whenever you catch a break, swing by the ShortSharpShot page and take a look at all the great entries on the shortlist, feed your soul, quench your spirit’s thirst and most importantly, vote. for your best entry by clicking the Like button. Let’s do our art proud.
‘Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Words Are Work