IAS at ART X Lagos 2019

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We were honoured to be guests at ART X Lagos 2019, the fourth edition of this rich festival of artistic visions, views, and voices, which brings together in one place some of the most sophisticated and thought-provoking creators, productions, teachers, researchers, galleries, curators, collectors, and impresarios from art scenes on the continent and its various diasporas across the globe.

Indeed, the 2019 fair, chockfull of works and events, talks and tours, performances and presentations, was an enriching weekend from which the IAS team of two lecturers and twenty students did gain a lot. The ambitiousness of the conceptualization of the festival may be grasped from the fact that the 2019 edition featured, to quote Tokini Peterside, Founder and Director of ART X Lagos, ‘90 artists and 22 exhibitors—representing over 25 countries from Africa and the diaspora’. The gamut of works ranged from the settled genres of such modernist masters as Abayomi Barber and Ablade Glover to the emergent sound art of Emeka Ogboh and the virtual reality renderings of Joel Benson. The vision of ART X Lagos is exploratorily remarkable, both in the breadth and depth of its conceptualization and for the astute execution of the various projects—from the audio-visual to the plastic and the performative and to the discursive and interactional. The main venue of the events, the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, was transformed into an arts wonderland from the 1st to the 3rd of November.

IAS Students interacting with an exhibitor at ART X Lagos 2019                                                                              IAS students interacting with an exhibitor at ART X Lagos 2019

Apart from a heavy contingent of Nigerian galleries, Some of the foreign galleries whose exhibits contributed to the wonderland effect include Galerie MAM (Cameroon), Galerie Voss (Germany), Galerie Cecile Fakhoury (Ivory Coast), Everard Read (South Africa), Goodman Gallery (South Africa), Ed Cross Gallery (United Kingdom), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), Addis Fine Art (Ethiopia), Afriart Gallery (Uganda) OOA Contemporary Art Gallery (Spain), etc.

Antawan and Abraham Oghobase                                      Abraham Oghobase and Antawan Byrd on the panel 'How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine'

The ART X Talks, coordinated mainly by Tayo Ogunbiyi, Artistic Director of ART X Lagos, provided a platform for conversations with a number of the most creative producers revolutionizing the artscape in Africa and beyond, including sessions in which artists and scholars such as Wangechi Mutu, Emeka Ogboh, Antawan Byrd, and Abraham Oghobase discussed intimately the impulses, intents, and methods of their innovative and widely acclaimed creations. The very last session of the Talks, anchored by N’Goné Fall, was fittingly an appreciation of the lifework and person of Bisi Silva, founder of Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, and the inaugural Artistic Director of ART X Lagos, who passed in February.

At the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art                                                              At the  Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University, Lekki, Lagos

The ART X experience for the IAS team included two guided tours, one to the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YSMA) at the Pan-Atlantic University, Lekki, and the other to the impressive construction site of the John K. Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, two emerging hubs of cultural recreation with a lot of contributions to make in terms of animating and supplementing artistic affordances and amenities in Lagos and its environs, and indeed augmenting Nigeria’s touristic offerings.

Construction site of the JK Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History

                                            Construction Site of the JK Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, Lagos

In all, ART X 2019 was a weekend of pleasurable immersion in matters artistic in diversely engaging dimensions.