H I R O K O   


Lagos Biennial II


 Lagos Biennial 2019 Logo


Theme: How To Build A Lagoon With Just A Bottle of Wine

Director: Folakunle Oshun

Curators: Antawan I. Byrd, Tosin Oshinowo and Oyinda Fakeye

Head of Curatorial Intensive Faculty: N’gone Fall

Curatorial Intensive Faculty: George Mahashe, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, Dana Whabira, Samuel Leuenberger, Patrick Mudekereza

Duration of the Biennial: 25 October Till 30 November 2019

Biennial Opens to the public: 26 October 2019

Main Exhibition Venue: Independence Building, Lagos Island

Opening Hours: 10am - 4pm daily and 12pm - 5pm on Sundays



How To Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?


We live in, and in relation to various kinds of environments. Architecture and the built environment shapes urban experience, impacting our sense of belonging and understanding of heritage. This physical environment is formed of the material remains of ‘visions of the future’, left for new generations. Climate change is a serious threat to our natural environment and is warming our planet. Rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather events are changing the ways people can and will live. The conditions of a particular political environment allow for atrocities such as the Atlantic Slave Trade to seem normalised or to become too easily forgotten, just as particular social environments can act to suppress or support a person’s sexual orientation or gender identification.

An environment can be made up of living or non-living things, of concepts and belief systems. Environments are natural or man-made, and are increasingly inhabited and navigated through digital and virtual media.

With an estimated 21 million inhabitants, Lagos ranks among the largest cities in the world and is the most populous in Africa. In recent decades, the city’s built environment has expanded exponentially through large-scale land reclamation initiatives, major industrial and luxury development projects, new transportation infrastructures, and sprawling housing settlements. This steady growth has transformed and amplified Lagos’s distinctive history as a cosmopolitan hub, and incubator of cultural and technological innovation. Yet such rapid change continues to raise pressing questions, facing cities across the globe, about the impact of urbanisation on conceptions of citizenship, the role of information systems, the sustainability of natural resources, and socio-economic equality.

The forthcoming biennial titled, How To Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine? will take the city of Lagos as its epicenter and point of departure for a broader investigation on how contemporary artists, designers, and other creatives, are responding to the challenges and possibilities of environments today. Inspired by lines from Nigerian writer Akeem Lasisi’s poem “A Song For Lagos,” the biennial’s title calls to mind the lagoons and waterways, that founded the city; the centuries-long histories of trade that have transformed Lagos; and daily herculean and inconceivable activities that support our burgeoning metropolis.


The Lagos Biennial was founded in 2017 as a not-for-profit contemporary art platform under the Àkéte Art Foundation, which is a Lagos-based artist collective registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria. The biennial positions the city of Lagos—with its highly international purview—as its hub in supporting and promoting contemporary art through exhibitions, public programmes, publications, research, and residencies. Through these activities, the biennial privileges adventurous approaches to art making, presentation, and critical discourse -aspiring to broach complex social and political problems, cultivate new publics, and establish fresh modes of engagement within the city, as well as throughout the country and internationally. Living on the Edge, the 2017 inaugural edition of the Lagos Biennial encapsulated the foregoing ethos. The event, spanning two months, brought together thirty-seven artists from five continents to present a combination of new and pre-existing work across the city. Prior to the biennial’s opening, many of the artists engaged the city through extended residencies during which they collaborated with local artists and institutions, and pursued independent research projects. Navigating Lagos’s oft-cited “chaos” and liveliness, much of the work in the inaugural edition waged organic responses to the city’s history and contemporary social dynamics. The core biennial exhibitions were held at the historic and, until recently, derelict Nigerian Railway Corporation in Yaba on the Lagos Mainland.


supported by IASPIS/Swedish Arts Grants Committee