The inaugural edition of Lagos Biennial started yesterday, October 14 at the Railway Compound, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
Lagos Biennial Artistic Director/founder of Akete Foundation, Folakunle Oshun, said the event with the theme, Living on the Edge, will end on November 22. Other venues are Ilukwe House, Jaekel House (Museum) and other places in Lagos.
Oshun said Living on the Edge explores the crises in historical and contemporary contexts. The exhibitions are framed around the concept of superimpositions, and examine parallel histories and counter-narratives with the character of the city of Lagos as catalyst.”
According to him, the Lagos Biennial is long overdue and will saver as platform for cultural exchange between Nigeria and the participating countries, as well as a platform for Nigerian artistes to engage with the world and showcase their talents.
“This is one of the biennial on the African continent that doesn’t just encourage an international audience but also international participation and that is a reflective of Lagos as a cosmopolitan city.
“Lagos has the talent, people in art, in literature, in music, the list goes on and on from Chinua Achebe to Fela, Wola Soyinka. We have these big names in Nigeria. Biennial is not just about fine art or visual art, there is a lot of literature, a lot film involved. We have these pockets of talents, with flashes of light everywhere.
“So, it is just about doing African thing. We also want to get invited to Venice, Italy, to document, so we go out their and say come let’s talk, think and dialogue. Our leaders are talking about this in the UN and we are always castigating them. As artists we say we have the solution, lets come together and see if we can do better than the politicians.”
The Lagos Biennial 2017 is organised by the Akete Foundation and has been endorsed by the Lagos State Government.
Part of the activities will be a book reading, art exhibition, cinematography, dinner reception at the rooftop of Goethe Institute on October 13, audio-visual installations, etc.
However, he said there was no open call for this maiden edition because of the timing and funding. “When you do an open call you must be able to fly everybody in and fund them. But for this we just made selection through our curatorial team and advisory board. And for the next edition we would have open call. So, the Lagos Biennial is open to everybody, it is something that we should embrace and should own
“Living on the edge, theme of the biennial speaks in many different ways,” said Oliver Enwonwu, the President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), who is also a member of the Lagos Biennial.
|From left; Dunja Herzog, Enwonwu, Ohsun, Juachi Obi and Ayo Akinwande at the press session|
“Why Lagos at this point in time? I think it imperative because Lagos is growing in the cultural scene. I would like to say Lagos is on fire, every weekend we have exhibitions.
The exhibition catalogue is becoming more exquisitely published, better quality images, critical text being written by many scholars, we have the growth of the auction houses, and with such a domestic scene.
“It is also very imperative that we bring in the biennial these little occurrences into more focus and project them into wilder audiences and more global platform.”
Enwonwu said: “The biennial tells you who is the cutting edge artist. It tells you those who will bring in something deferent, it will talk about the geographic boundary, psychological boundary that the organisers and curators are trying to break and push forward.
"These are very interesting occurrences, I hope it will be something sustainable, bring more privet people getting involved, most especially sponsors, when the government get involved because I think it is a good way when we are talking about economic diversification of Nigerian, and of cause to cerebrate our rich cultural heritage, to celebrate Africa, the people and of cause one way of bring our culture into contemporary manner to global platform all over the world.”
Legacy 1995, a historical land environmental interest group in Nigeria is the main partner for the Lagos Biennial 2017 and will be granting access to monumental and historic architecture in the city of Lagos. Biennial Team Folakunle Oshun Artistic Director/Curator, Amira Paree – Co-Curator, Erin Rice, Consulting Coordinator Artist Talks, Akor Opaluwah, Coordinator Artist Talks, Aminat Lawal-Agoro, Project Manager, Sola Akintunde, Co-Curator.
Participating artists are Jelili Atiku, Rahima Gambo, Ayo Akinwande, Lena Athanasopoulou, Sam Hopkins, and David Lale, Saba Zavarei, David Palacios, Arrigo Reuss, Lamis Haggag, Dunja Herzog, Jess Atieno, Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Rita GT, Niyi Olagunju, Phoebe Boswell, Kainebi Osahenye, Adeola Olagunju, Ranjeeta Kumari Yara MekaweiEca EpsObuh Christopher Nelson Amina Zoubir Olivia Jasinski, Tito Aderemi-Ibitola, Kathleen Hearn, Jerry Buhari, Youngjoo Yoo, Poku Chereme, Maie Okafor, Amol Pati, Tori Wrånes,Taiye Idahor, Januario Jano, Ro Caminal,Ala Kheir,Wura-Natasha-Ogunji, Sébastien Mazauric, Fati Abubakar, Delio Jasse, Kris Russo, Simon Daniel, Tegnander Wenzel, Silas Mensah and Mawuenya Amudzi.
The Lagos Biennial team members are: Folakunle Oshun, Artistic Director/Curator; Ayo Akinwande, Assistant to the Artistic Director/Curatorial Advisor; Aminat Lawal, Project Lead; Amira Paree, Co-Curator; Jeanne Schultz, Design Architect; Kelvin Haizel, Guest Curator; Kwasi Ohene-Aye, Guest Curator; Akor Opaluwah, Coordinator, Artist Talks and Erin Rice, Consultant, Artist Talks
First images; installation in progress by the Lagos Biennial Artistic Director, Folakunle Oshun and Ayo Akinwande at the Railway Compound, Yaba, Lagos)