Lagos Biennale-A Throwback To Enwezor’s Beginnings
It is a struggle not to assume the influence of Okwui Enwezor’s early curatorial practice on the location and theme of the imminent Lagos Biennale, set for opening on October 14. Curator Folakunle Oshun’s choice of an old railway station, built in the late 19th century, complete with the automotive relics left behind, recalls Enwezor’s choice of a disused Electricity station as the main venue of the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale, which shot him to global artistic consciousness.
Oshun’s decision, implicit in the theme, Living on the Edge, that it may be savvy for the Lagos Biennale “to investigate the realities of the losers in societies around the world – the unseen majority who are pushed to the brink of their existence; in both political and cultural ramifications” is very much in consonance with Enwezor’s curatorial direction in Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany in 15 years ago. Keen watchers of Enwezor’s work would however argue that he had expressed the very contrary notion in Johannesburg five years earlier, where he dismissively responded to a reporter’s question with the statement: “I am not doing an exhibition to solve the housing problem of Soweto”.
Unlike Enwezor’s Johannesburg Biennale, Oshun’s Lagos Biennale envisions that the automotive relics left behind in the disused railway space and the families who find refuge on the grounds, will not just provide a back drop for the (expectedly) edgy, innovative, contemporary art that will be on view until the event’s closing on November 22. “They also “form a sort of green-screen, for this experimental process””, Oshun explains.
JP Clark Discusses “America” At The Lagos Book And Art Festival
On a Parvin Fellowship at Princeton University in 1961, JP Clark, then an emerging, 28 year old Nigerian poet and playwright, encountered what he thought was an American reality far more complicated than “the great new empire of the world” that his contemporaries saw and captured in their writings. His response was to project a non-conformist body language that his hosts found so deeply discomforting that they terminated his fellowship on the ninth month of the yearlong programme.
Clark’s America Their America, a literary non-fiction account of the episode, published in 1964, “captured the undercurrents of the “real America” in a bristling, and unforgiving account”, to quote Obi Nwakanma, a columnist at Vanguard. During the last US elections in 2016, the entire world witnessed the America that Clark had encountered 56 years ago and published in his book, which has now been reprinted by Bookcraft. America, to most people’s surprise, had elected a racist bigot. Clark, now 84, will be discussing the book at the Lagos Book and Art Festival LABAF on Thursday November 9. “No book is more fitting for a conversation this 19th edition of LABAF, with its theme Eruptions: Global Fractures and Our Common Humanity, than this brave 53 year old story of the United States”, declares Jahman Anikulapo, Programme Director of the Festival.
Artsy Fatsy: Mainland Feels Cool Again
Artist Talks and Seminars at the Lagos Biennale (October 14 to November 22) are scheduled to take place at the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, in Yaba. This programme reinforces the centrality of the Ebute Metta East-Yaba precinct, on the Mainland, right in the centre of the city, on the biennale. It is symbolic in the sense that Lagos Mainland has been, for close to 20 years now, consigned to the margins of visual arts viewing and discourses. It is more than a coincidence that curator Bisi Silva’s Centre For Contemporary Art Lagos CCAL has, in the last decade, spearheaded the re-direction of the arthouse crowd to Yaba.
This is perhaps, what inspires the French language and cultural centre Alliance Francaise, located around the corner from CCAL to inaugurate its Sunday Chill, which it describes as “a one of a kind monthly event, every last Sunday of the month, in Jaekel’s Secret Garden, on the Railway Compound in Ebute Metta. The Sunday Chill, beginning today from 2 to 7pm, doesn’t promise an artistic experience. In fact the idea is prosaic: “meet us for a full afternoon of games, food, drinks and live music in a lovely garden”, the invitation says, but the likelihood is that most of the guests will be drawn from the small, close knit, Lagos artistic community.
Calendar: From LCA Through LABAF To ACDF And Ake
The annual Film Festival Lights, Camera, Africa heralds the end-of-year Festival season in Lagos with its 7th edition themed Reset, holding at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos from 29 September – 1 October, 2017. The play Gula!, will be staged at Terra Kulture on September 30, October 1, October 7 and October 8, all at 3pm and 7pm. It is based on Olusegun Obasanjo’s encounter in prison with a ruthless killer Baba Ali, as captured in his memoir. Going by the earlier work of its directors: Kenneth Ukphopho, Gbenga Yusuf and Ayo Ajayi. Felabration, a yearly event dedicated to celebrating the iconic musician Fela, runs from Oct 9, 2017 – Oct 15, 2017.
The Lagos Biennale runs from October 14 to November 22. Art X Lagos, the ambitious showcase of contemporary African art, happens between November 3 and Nov 5. The Lagos Book and Art Festival, tagged Africa’s largest culture picnic, will hold from November 6 to 12, 2017. The African Cultural and Design Festival (ACDF) of the International Federation of Interior Architects Assembly runs from 9th to 12th of November in Lagos. “ACDF is a cultural festival that will highlight the richness of our cultural and artistic heritage”, says Olabisi Silva, “the modern and contemporary section will be a hybrid bringing art, technology, the market and edutainment to the mix”. Ake Book and Art Festival, in Abeokuta, will run from November 14 to 18, 2017.
• Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency
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