Event Recap: Lagos Biennial Trip 2024

Event Recap: Lagos Biennial Trip 2024

Yinka Shonibare Foundation, Guest Artists Space Foundation, and British Council collaborated to create a cultural nexus by hosting a group of visual art curators in Lagos during the 4th edition of the Lagos Biennial. Joined by G.A.S. friends, Biennial VIPs and our patrons, the group participated in an immersive itinerary that took place between the 2nd and 7th of February and included participation in the official programme of the Lagos Biennial alongside in-depth tours of local institutions, artist studios, collections and galleries.


Our guests arrived on Friday to a relatively cool harmattan season in Lagos, where they were greeted by the G.A.S. and Y.S.F. teams. Saturday ushered in the start of both the Biennial and the 5-day programme. The day started with a relaxed stroll to the nearby Bloom Art Lagos before proceeding to the opening event of the Lagos Biennial at the Musical Society of Nigeria (Muson) Center. Inspiring commencement speeches were given by the co-curators, Folakunle Oshun and Katheryn Weirs, as well as the board of the Biennial, represented by Ms N’goné Fall. 


After lunch, the group made a stop at kó Art Space to view 4939, a solo exhibition by Odun Orimolade, before returning to the Biennial for performances by Native Maqari, Emalohi, Zineb Boujema, and Keziah Jones. We concluded the day by attending the Biennial celebration party hosted by G.A.S. patron and kó founder, Kavita Chellaram.



The group began the second day with a tour of The Children’s Art Gallery, followed by a visit to Rele Gallery for a tour of the Young Contemporaries exhibition hosted by the Programmes Manager for the Rele Arts Foundation, Valerie Fab-Uche. In the afternoon the group returned to Lagos Biennial for a re-enactment of Professor Darlene Blackburn’s FESTAC ‘77 performance From Africa to America. The evolution of the piece and its history were then unpacked in conversation with Professor Darlene Blackburn and Professor Idegu Emmy Unuja of the University of Calabar moderated by Professor Romi Crawford (New Art School Modality). G.A.S. resident Raymond Pinto's performance diffractions followed at the Traces of Ecstasy pavilion, designed by fellow resident Nolan Oswald Dennis.


In the evening the group were taken to Plan B for a series of open-air screenings and a panel discussion hosted as part of their CBN Land Programme. Notable speakers included Tushar Hathiramani (founder of 16/16 and Plan B), Bubu Ogisi (founder and creative director, IAMSIGO), Sinazo Chiya (Writer and associate director at Stevenson), Dika Ofoma (Nigerian writer, culture journalist, and filmmaker), Kemi Lijadu (Filmmaker and DJ), and Jenny Mbaye (Researcher in Creative economy and entrepreneurship). 



The group explored cultural institutions surrounding the historic Tafawa Balewa Square on the third day of the trip. First off was a private pre-opening tour of the John Randle Center, followed by an immersive exploration of the Center for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), which holds one of the world's most comprehensive collections of FESTAC 77' memorabilia. The afternoon brought the group back to the Biennial for Technological Refuge: Strategies of Hiding in Plain Sight, a stimulating conversation featuring Ezekiel Dixon-Román in discussion with Rabeeha Adnan, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Anna Ehrenstein, and Sephora Woldu.


Post-biennial activities for the day included a studio visit with Nengi Omuku and an evening networking event hosted at G.A.S. This gathering brought together G.A.S. residents, alumni, creatives, cultural practitioners, and stakeholders from across the city, creating an enriching atmosphere. Starting with a guided tour of the building, the G.A.S. Library and Picton Archives made for a notable spotlight, with curated titles from the archive collection on display for guests to interact with.



On the penultimate day of the trip, the group were taken to Tiwani Contemporary for a tour of Caducado, a solo exhibition of work by Italian-based Angolan photographer, Délio Jasse led by Adelaide Bannerman (Curatorial Director) and Charlotte Langhorst (Gallery Manager). Next on the itinerary was the Nigerian National Museum in Lagos where curators facilitated an in-depth guided experience of the various collections. This included a site-specific installation by Uthman Wahaab,  Khalwa Room II, incorporating performance, painting, film, synesthesia and acoustics. The exhibition was a part of Off-ish, a series of off-site projects in conjunction with Lagos Biennale 2024.


The group made their daily stop at the Biennial, which culminated in a panel discussion on Ecologies of Refuge led by Kathryn Weir in discussion with Yussef Agbo-Ola, Maria Thereza Alves, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, and Feda Wardak and a performance by Em’kal Eyongakpa. The day ended on a delectable note with a supper of Afro-fusion cuisine at Nok by Alara.



The final day of the trip started with a presentation and private tour of Adeju Thompson’s Spring/Summer collection at the Alara concept store. From there, the group visited Alliance Francaise in Lagos, spending the afternoon attending a symposium hosted by KJ Abudu, spotlighting themes, concepts, and processes from the Traces of Ecstacy pavilion. Speakers included KJ Abudu, Zoé Samudzi, Roberto Strongman, Neema Githere, Emmanuel Iduma, and Nolan Oswald Dennis. As the day drew to a close, a small contingent of the group seized the opportunity for a final shopping trip at the Lekki Arts and Crafts market. With bags filled with keepsakes from Nigeria, it was finally time to bid farewell to Lagos.



The 2024 Lagos Biennial Trip was filled with enriching encounters with art, culture, and history. We express our gratitude to every one of our guests, and the British Council for their support in fostering cultural exchange, learning, and collaboration among visual art curators and researchers.


G.A.S. Lagos Biennial Trip group at Rele Gallery (L-R):  Siti Osman, Tomiwa Adegbola, Magda Kaggwa, Sharon Corwin, Nicolas Trembley, Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, Georgia Taylor Aguilar, Peju Oshin, Timilehin Oludare, Fab-Uche N. Valerie, Oscar Abdulla, Aïcha Mehrez, Tomi Olukosi, Cynthia Okoro, Pelumi Odubanjo, Yewande YoYo Odunubi, Michèle Himmer, Miriam Bettin, Soo Hitchin.

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