Saro-Wiwa’s approach to the camera is partially informed by Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood) cinema. Nollywood has no uniform style, but some common elements include unofficial sequels, low budgets, surrealistic aesthetics, and romantic dramedies. Like Nollywood film, Saro-Wiwa’s work is marked by the camera’s presence and a “just do it” mentality. This ethos and aesthetic enable Saro-Wiwa to dramatize reality across her video art and photographic practice. In so doing, Saro-Wiwa is able to cope with painful real experiences by choreographing them for the camera, which is especially evident in her 2011 installation. Sarogua Morning.
Sarogua Morning Grapples with the artist’s inability to mourn the death of her father: poet, author, and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. He was executed by the Nigerian military regime in 1995. Unable to cry in the years following his death, Saro-Wiwa staged an encounter with the camera where she would permit herself to go to a dark space of grief. The composition of Saraogua Morning is cropped and mirrors the peek-a-boo vantage point of a peep show. There, Saro-Wiwa is featured from bare shoulders up against red curtains crying for 12 minutes. The piece is deeply moving, despite the very clear production strings that make it possible, namely the camera. Saro-Wiwa uses the camera across her multidisciplinary practice as a guide to reveal reality, a tool that can provoke a genuine emotion that she, and others, may resist in their daily life, outside of the frame.