The 4th Lagos Biennial: Exploring the Spatial and Socio-Political Implications of Refuge
On the third of February, this yr’s Lagos Biennial opened on the Tafawa Balewa Sq., Lagos, an emblematic venue that was as soon as the positioning of Nigerian independence celebrations in 1960. Because the 4th version of the artwork honest, it continues with its goal of utilizing artwork to activate historic landmarks which have misplaced significance both by useful use or symbolic which means to the residents of the previous capital metropolis.
The earlier editions of the Biennial have explored varied elements of the town’s structure, its symbolic significance, political implications, sovereignty, possession, notions of belonging, and its relationship with the general public. This yr, the theme of “Refuge” on the Tafawa Balewa Sq. takes this exploration even additional. Curators Kathryn Weir and Folakunle Oshun spotlight that this theme prompts the sq. to deal with the idea of a nation-state. It additionally brings collectively artists and designers from totally different disciplines to discover various approaches to setting up renewable communities and selling local weather justice.
The Biennial showcases the works of 80 contributors from 30 nations, who discover the theme by architectural pavilions, artwork installations, artist talks, movie screenings, projections, and performances. As you enter, you’re greeted by an set up of closed picket doorways created by the famend artist, Demas Nwoko. These doorways function an interface, inviting guests to work together with enclosures as a type of refuge. Additionally they elevate questions in regards to the democratic nature of the venue and its accessibility for the town’s residents. Many guests expressed appreciation for the Lagos biennial being a chance to go to the sq. and admire its construction. The Biennial’s installations are unfold all through the concrete ground sq. and raked seats of the construction, encouraging guests to freely discover and ponder the underlying themes.
The Great thing about Impermanence: Exploring Adaptive Structure from the International South on the 2023 Sharjah Structure Triennial
House: A Framework for Self-Identification
As one explores the sq., one will encounter quite a few architectural pavilions that delve into native supplies and incorporate mixed-media installations exploring particular person and communal id. One notable pavilion is “Traces of Ecstasy,” curated by KJ Abudu and designed by Oswald Dennis. This modular construction consists of overlapping curvilinear enclosures that draw inspiration from the fractal geometries of African indigenous space-making. The enclosures are constructed utilizing concrete bricks stacked transversely, resembling breeze blocks, and are lined with Adire material patterns to create a particular ambiance. The Pavilion serves as a framework for sound and video installations, dwell performances, and a digital browser community that delves into African historical past, freedom dreaming, and self-identity. Comparable themes could be present in different installations inside the sq., such because the gridded construction of picket cubes by Albanian architect Endri Marku, which evokes the imagery of a pixel grid and is titled “Wahala, Freedom, Quantum Leap”. This construction homes video displays that discover the physique as an archive, critique public corruption, and delve into gender-queer experiences in Nigeria. These installations immediate a mirrored image on self-identity and the significance of embracing plurality as a type of refuge.
Nevertheless, one explicit construction takes a distinct method to exploring self and collective id. Titled “Taşlık Kahvesi” and created by French artist Deniz Bedir, it serves as each a resting area and a communal café, inviting the general public, employees, and artists to serve themselves and others. This straightforward picket construction options inside work depicting seascapes, creating the phantasm of home windows overlooking a static horizon. With mats on the ground, it fosters an environment for casual exchanges, encounters, discussions, and other people looking for solace in each other.
Useful resource as Socio-Political Refuge
Because the International South teaches us that shortage breeds innovation, the Lagos Biennial lends its voice by inventive installations that discover the socio-political nature of assets. Within the sq., famend artist, Bruce Onobrakpaeya showcases big out of doors sculptures made with recycled supplies, capturing your consideration with its collage of attention-grabbing shapes and designs. These supplies embrace motherboards, pc elements, engines, car spare elements, iron, pipes, and chrome steel sourced from Well-liked Market areas in Lagos. They make a compelling case for reuse, environmental safety, and sustainability.
Different installations that replicate the identical message are “Human Hive 3” by Nigerian artist Chinenye Emelogu and “Yakachana” by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama. The previous is a colourful sprawl of reused plastic rings used for packaging merchandise, whereas the latter consists of interwoven outdated jute sacks that have been initially used to move cocoa, rice, and different meals merchandise. Mahama’s set up speaks to how foreign-made packages, just like the jute sacks, carry varied histories of nations within the world north and are used to bundle home-grown merchandise, limiting sure financial infrastructures from growing and producing wealth for Ghana.
Moreover, because the Biennial explores the redistributed assets between the worldwide north and world south, it is very important distinguish between imported assets that hinder the expansion of the native financial system and those who contribute to circularity between each areas. An impactful set up referred to as Re-(t)exHile showcases a textile structure made from sewn items of a number of clothes held on diverging wires to create an enclosure. The set up goals to deal with the issue of textile waste that travels from the International North to the International South disguised as second-hand clothes. It does so by shopping for them from markets in Lagos and re-exporting the set up to the International North. Whereas this set up critiques the sturdiness of those garments, it fails to grasp the position that the worldwide south performs within the round financial system of textiles and the way the act of re-exporting is an antithesis to the useful resource wants of the area.
A Sense of Belonging inside Non secular House
Varied architectural and inventive installations inside the Biennial discover the themes of faith and spirituality as a socio-cultural refuge. One significantly placing set up is the Miracle Central by artist Victor Ehikhamenor. It depicts a easy church construction with a facade lined in hundreds of white handkerchiefs, which symbolize Pentecostal Christianity within the nation. Inside, the set up additional delves into spirituality with suspended components generally present in these church buildings and an evangelical sound set up. On the apse of the pavilion, an intricate work of rosaries sewn on lace material showcases human figures of a congregation and preacher, accompanied by the message “Count on a Miracle”. This construction explores the intersection of faith, politics, historical past, and expressions of belonging within the nation.
Different installations within the biennial, resembling Xtracenstral curated by Kukily Afrofeminist Arts Collective, Airi: Bone Altar by artist Yussef Agbo-Ola, and Omi Elu by French artist Tabita Rezaire, additionally discover spirituality by analyzing conventional spiritual practices. Equally, all three installations use materials with motifs and dye patterns that characterize spirits, ancestors, and environmental entities that human life will depend on, inside a metallic body to create enclosures. Collectively, these installations reference the complicated relationship between folks, conventional religions, and Africanized Christianity as an area for supernatural and transformative encounters.
The 4th Lagos Biennial showcased a various vary of installations that discover varied themes, resembling self-identity, useful resource shortage, spirituality, and the complicated histories of Nigeria. Different thought-provoking installations, together with “Levitate” by Iván Argote, “Disassembling the Cloud” by Information Centered Collective, “El Salto” by German artist Jimmie Durham, “Jimmie Durham, Island” by Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira, and plenty of others, problem conventional narratives and invite viewers to think about other ways of understanding their cultural and political place. By interrogating the Tafawa Balewa Sq. in Lagos, the biennial displays the connection between the town’s residents and the nation-state, offering a up to date mirror that displays the social, cultural, and political dynamics of Nigeria. By means of its exploration of artwork, structure, and numerous views, the Lagos Biennial creates an area for vital dialogue and invitations guests to interact with urgent problems with our time.