The popularity of art festivals and biennials in major cities across the world has set a pattern through which contemporary art is imagined, perceived and structured. With objectives usually directed towards the advancement of art, philosophical ideologies, and promotion of artists, these periodic events have become a part of the calendar for art activities globally. Lagos, the commercial nerve point of Africa and an art destination on the continent was recently mentioned along with 12 other cities in a publication by Phaidon titled “Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes” as one of the emerging art capitals of the world. With its last major art festival being FESTAC ’77 and more recently Lagos Photo, ARESUVA, and Art X, the city of Lagos has blossomed in the arts with notable personalities taking on the international art scene in various capacities as artists, curators, art historians etc.
With other major cities in Africa having a growing number of large/medium-scale art festivals such as the Dak’art Biennale, Cairo Biennale, Marrakesh Biennale, Recontres Bamako, Kampala Biennale, and Addis Foto Fest. It has become expedient for the city of Lagos to capture the individual and collective efforts of art practitioners within and outside the continent, while also harnessing the creative ambitions of artists from all over the world in this dynamic space. It is necessary to open up an artistic dialogue with the rest of the world in the form of large-scale projects and exhibitions of contemporary art.
The biennial, which is an artist initiative, will hold once every two years in the city of Lagos with the primary aim of opening cultural, artistic, and political conversations from Lagos to the rest of the world. In line with the spirit of Lagos which is all-welcoming, the Lagos biennial is not driven by Afrocentric ideologies but rather embraces the unifying simplicity of the human experience.
The Lagos Biennial, themed “Living on the Edge”opens to the general public on the 14th of October 2017 and runs to November 22, 2017. The inaugural edition of the Lagos Biennial explores Crisis in both historical and contemporary contexts. It will feature about 45 participating artists from about 15 countries of the world . The exhibitions are framed around the concept of super-impositions, and examine parallel histories and counter narratives with the character of the City of Lagos as catalyst. The main Biennial exhibition will take place at the Running shed of the Railway compound in Yaba, Lagos. Some of the participating artists include,Jelili Atiku, Rahima Gambo, Jess Atieno, Rita GT, Niyi Olangunju, Yara Mekawei, Olivia Jasinski, Kainebi Osahenye, Phoebe Boswell and a host of others. The Lagos biennial also comes as a response to an underwhelming series of citywide exhibitions during the Lagos at 50 celebrations. It has become necessary to open up an artistic dialogue with the rest of the world in the form of large scale projects and exhibitions of contemporary art. This Artist run event will hold once every two years in the city of Lagos at various locations with the primary aim of opening cultural, artistic and political conversations from Lagos to the rest of the world. According to the artistic director, Folakunle Oshun, one of the aims is to capture the individual and collective efforts of art practitioners in and around the continent, while also harnessing the creative ambitions of artists from all over the world in this dynamic space.