Nolan Oswald Dennis, a versatile artist working across disciplines, is making a highly anticipated comeback to G.A.S. Lagos, following their initial research residency in January 2023. Supported by the Goodman Gallery, their first foray into Nigeria explored Nigerian post-colonial art education and the landscape of Nigerian modernism. Engaging in a whirlwind of activities, including interstate trips, site visits, interviews, and cultural research, Dennis conducted reconnaissance on locations slated for the upcoming edition of the Lagos Biennial.
Returning for a residency spanning from January 25th to February 7th, 2024, Nolan is now immersing themselves in preparations for the Lagos Biennial. This incubator period serves as a crucial phase for fine-tuning the details of the Traces of Ecstacy pavilion they are designing, which will hold artworks by former G.A.S. Residents, Evan Ifekoya, and Raymond Pinto. In addition, this period will allow Nolan to prepare to share the research and conceptual framework behind their design at the upcoming Traces of Ecstasy symposium. Beyond Lagos, Nolan expresses a keen interest in connecting with Ibadan and the New Culture Studio. Their research agenda extends to exploring the Nsukka school, the Mbari Artists and Writers Club, and other movements that defined Nigeria's modernist era.
How will you be participating in the Lagos Biennial? Can you tell us about what visitors could expect to see from you?
I designed the "Traces of Ecstasy" pavilion for the Lagos Biennial in Tafewa Balewa Square. The pavilion is a temporary architectural structure that draws inspiration from the poetics of self-transformative, self-reflexive, and self-defensive systems found in the recursive geometries common in African architecture (particularly Mokoulek Fractals of the Fali/Bana people of Northeastern Nigeria and Cameroon). The pavilion is an open structure that will house artworks by Evan Ifekoya, Raymond Pinto, Adeju Thompson (Lagos Space Station), Temitayo Shonibare, and a small digital essay-game of mine, all curated by KJ Abudu.
Are there any Biennial events that you will be participating in?
I will present notes from the research and conceptual framework of the architectural structure in the Traces of Ecstasy symposium.
Is there anything else that you hope to do on your return to Lagos? Is there anything in particular that you're looking forward to?
I've recently been thinking about the artbook landscape in Lagos so I'm looking forward to visiting Jazzhole again, CCA Lagos library, the recently expanded G.A.S. foundation library collection, the small bookstore at ko art space, and hopefully others.
Also, it's not exactly Lagos but I'm interested in the work of the New Culture studio in Ibadan, so hopefully I can find time to visit there.
Nolan Oswald Dennis (Lusaka, Zambia) is a para-disciplinary artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their practice explores ‘a black consciousness of space’ - the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonisation - questioning histories of space and time through system-specific interventions.
Their work has been featured in exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town, London), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Van Abbemuseum, the Seoul Mediacity Biennial, Young Congo Biennale (Kinshasa), FRONT triennial (Columbus), Shanghai Biennial, and the Liverpool Biennial among others.
They are a founding member of artist group NTU, a research associate at the VIAD research centre at the University of Johannesburg, and a member of the Index Literacy Program