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Siblings Chukwubuikem and Kosisochukwu Nnebe are guest curators for the Summer Edition of Pique.

Pique’s Summer Edition Honours the Past and Shapes the Future

The eclectic Ottawa festival traces a path between the past, present and future of Black, African and Caribbean creativity with the help of sibling curators Kosisochukwu and Chukwubuikem Nnebe.

by Ozioma Nwabuikwu

The summer edition of Pique is back again and Ottawa’s local art nonprofit, Debaser, is pulling no punches. With a star studded lineup of experimental artists and underground artisans including Alice Longyu Gao, Pelada, Masahiro Takahashi and Brodie West, Pique offers an irreplaceable experience every season. 

Every Pique is brought to life through curatorial collaboration and this summer is no different. Debaser partnered with visual artist Kosisochukwu Nnebe to present her new exhibition, The Seeds We Carry, which will open at SAW Gallery on June 8, the day of the festival, and run until August 10, 2024. The Nigerian-Canadian artist’s work focuses on uncovering facets of Black visibility, resistance and artistry through an anti-colonial lens. 

To help her guest curate the musical programming of the show, Kosi thought first of her brother, Chukwubuikem “Chubby” Nnebe, a DJ and former radio show host who cut his teeth in the Montreal club scene. Together, this sibling duo brought the exhibition to life and lent curatorial efforts to the Pique lineup, bringing on dynamic Montreal artists and performers. RANGE caught up with them to delve into their artistic process.


A childhood photo of siblings Chukwubuikem “Chubby” Nnebe and Kosisochukwu Nnebe.


The Seeds We Carry is borne out of Kosi’s fascination with the knowledge transfer among the African diaspora, specifically between Jamaica and Igboland, in present day Nigeria, during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Kosi can trace her roots firmly to Anambra State in Nigeria, but that doesn’t spare her and others living on the continent from the permanent effects of the slave trade and colonization on their culture and traditions. “Even though my direct ancestors were not those who were taken from Igboland and brought to places in Jamaica…they were taken from our homeland,” she says. “My identity as a Black woman in Canada is fundamentally shaped by that history.” 

Many West African slaves were taken to regions in the Caribbean, including Jamaica. During that violent process, much was lost, but some knowledge, traditions and even crops were exchanged and the influence of those exchanges still persists today. One such crop was cassava, a “famine crop” that was originally from South America, but has been relied on by many African populations for centuries, including by Nigerians. But cassava contains cyanide and if not prepared properly can be very poisonous. 

“The crop itself travelling to Nigeria wasn’t sufficient. What had to travel with it is the knowledge of how to make it edible,” Kosi says. During the slave trade, cassava was not only used as a form of sustenance, but also resistance. Slave women who were put in charge of the domestic chores would harvest cyanide powder from the crop, pack it under long thumbnails and poison the food of their slave masters. Fast forward to now, this resistance has morphed into adornment and self care, as Black women everywhere proudly rock beautiful manicures. To honour this ingenuity and reclamation of power that Black women have pioneered, The Seeds We Carry exhibition will feature a real nail salon that reimagines the past “training ground where weapons were distributed.”  Along with several cultural, historical and spiritual references from across the diaspora, this exhibition is sure to be an immersive and enlightening affair. 



The Nnebe family is a creative one and each member is represented in The Seeds We Carry as a commitment to what Kosi refers to as “inter-generational knowledge transfer” and “ancestral reconnection.” Their father is assisting with the content of the exhibition through his knowledge of Igbo language and traditions. Their mother is planting cassava at the exhibition site. Their sister’s research on cyanide inspired Kosi’s interest. Finally, Chubby Nnebe heads up the musical curation centred around his sister’s exhibition. Pulling from Kosi’s work, he found a theme of “celebration of Black aliveness, resistance and survival.” For the performance piece, he chose to highlight voguing and stepping dance traditions, because they are “evocative of life, energy and vigor,” despite their history of marginalization. Montreal vogue performers Bubblegum 007 and Fiji Siriano 007 will lead a voguing workshop and performance at the SAW Courtyard, while the stepping workshop and performance will be led by the Montreal Steppers. 

For the musical side, Chubby brings on his old friend and acclaimed Montreal psychotropical dub DJ, Honeydrip. After meeting at Concordia, Chubby has remained a big fan of her work that delves into genres like dub, dancehall, and contemporary African electronic music, as well as her exploration of the sound system culture in Jamaica. Along with co-performers King Shadrock and Emma Forgues, who comes accompanied by a custom sound system that she crafted herself, Honeydrip “creates a sound that is very of the moment while using traditional and contemporary perspectives.” Clearly enthused, Chubby says “It’s fun having this opportunity to celebrate these long-standing relationships. Being able to provide them a platform to showcase their talent makes me very excited.”

Kosi’s hopes for The Seeds We Carry are that it will be embraced as an “offering to community” that alerts us to our own agency, will and strength. Catch the exhibition and the summer Pique edition on Saturday, June 8, at the Arts Court in Ottawa. 

The Summer Edition of Pique takes place on June 8 at Arts Court in Ottawa, ON | MORE INFO