Apollo
Interviews

In the studio with… Emeka Ogboh

5 August 2021

‘What actually got me interested in sound’, Emeka Ogboh says, is ‘its ability to take you to places. It transports you to where you are not physically present.’ The Nigerian-born artist, who lives and works between Lagos and Berlin, creates audio installations that capture, for instance, the bustle and noise of urban life in Lagos or a choir of African refugees singing the German national anthem in 10 different languages. In a new work commissioned by Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival, 27 citizens of the European Union who live in Scotland – and a lone UK citizen – sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the same time, but in their respective mother tongues. The result literally gives a voice to those who were not able to vote in the EU referendum in 2016. ‘Emeka Ogboh: Song of the Union’ is at the Burns Monument in Edinburgh until 29 August.

Where is your studio? 
My studio is a 2020 model 13-inch MacBook Pro.

What do you like most about the space?
Its portability.

What frustrates you about it?
Sometimes I wish it could be faster.

Emeka Ogboh’s 13-inch MacBook pro

Emeka Ogboh’s 13-inch MacBook pro (aka his studio)

How messy is your studio?
Very messy… the desktop is littered with folders and files. But thankfully there’s the search bar and Command-F prompt.

What does it smell like?
It smells like overheated electrical circuits sometimes.

What’s the weirdest object in there?
Workout apps. I never use them.

Which artistic tool could you least do without?
Ableton Live 10 Suite.

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?
A PDF file version of Ikpo Nsibidi Igbo [a project to convert symbols from the Nsibidi ideographic script into morphographic characters].

Do you pin up images of other artists’ works?
A few times in the past I have used images of Jeremy Geddes paintings as wallpapers.

Do you cook in the studio?
No I do not cook in the studio, but I browse for recipes and watch a lot of YouTube cooking videos.

What do you listen to while you’re working?
My work music taste is quite eclectic – Igbo minstrels, Afrobeats/Afro-pop, Amapiano, electronic music, techno, Highlife, reggae.

Song of the Union (2021), Emeka Ogboh. Installation view, Burns Monument, Edinburgh, 2021.

Song of the Union (2021), Emeka Ogboh. Installation view, Burns Monument, Edinburgh, 2021. Photo: Sally Jubb; courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh

Do you ever sleep in your studio?
No, rather it sleeps on me.

Is anything (or anyone) banned?
Yes, practically everyone is banned.

‘Emeka Ogboh: Song of the Union’ is at the Burns Monument, Edinburgh, until 29 August.

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