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© Adeyemi Michael, ENTITLED, 2018

"Entitled" by Adeyemi Michael

How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?3

Lagos Biennial 2019
26 Oct - 30 Nov 2021
Antawan I. Byrd, Oyindamola Fakeye, and Tosin Oshinowo 

In recent decades, Lagos 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 the city’s distinctive history as a cosmopolitan hub, and incubator of cultural and technological innovation. Yet such rapid change continues to raise immense challenges, facing cities across the globe, about the impact of urbanisation on conceptions of identity and citizenship, affordable housing, the sustainability of natural resources, and socio-economic equality.


The second edition of the Lagos Biennial of Contemporary Art — How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine? — brings together artworks and architectural projects by 44 individuals and collectives working in a range of mediums. Inspired by lines from Nigerian writer Akeem Lasisi’s poem, “A Song For Lagos,” the biennial’s title evokes the waterways on which Lagos was founded and metaphorically calls up the outsize ambitions and herculean challenges of urban transformation. Much of the work in this exhibition addresses the history and urban character of Lagos from the perspective of artists who either live in the city or spend time here for residencies or research projects. Whereas numerous other projects dwell on urban concerns in different parts of the world. The exhibition’s cumulative effect is one in which Lagos emerges as an epicenter, serving as both a convener and a case study for considering the challenges and possibilities of built environments today. “Built environments” are human-made spaces where people live, work, and recreate daily—typically in dialogue with natural, non-human, and virtual forms. The artworks and projects in this exhibition meditate on how environments are built and inhabited, pointing to the ecological, historical, and sociopolitical dimensions of the spaces we construct and inhabit. 


Independence House, Lagos

This venue, Independence House, constitutes the biennial’s first project, or spatial proposition. This 25-storey structure was commissioned by the British government in 1959 to commemorate Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960. At the time of its completion in 1963, the building was among the tallest in Nigeria, and so came to symbolize the country’s modern and sovereign ambitions. Throughout its history, this edifice housed corporations and government offices, namely those of the country’s Ministry of Defense. However, by the mid-1990s, the building was decommissioned and has since been largely abandoned. The biennial occupies space on the first four floors of the building, which were judiciously renovated to retain traces of the site’s recent dilapidated history. This building was selected as the exhibition’s venue in part because its near 360° views of Lagos complement and reinforce the aesthetic-urban dialogues forged by the artworks themselves. Moreover, the site carries art historical significance, for it houses (seen nearby) original artwork by pioneering Nigerian artists, including bas-relief sculptures by Felix Idubor (1928–1991), and the first ever mosaic designed by Yusuf Grillo (b. 1934). The selection of Independence House thus elaborates on the inaugural biennial’s mandate of using contemporary art to reinvigorate abandoned architectural sites while uncovering their (art) historical salience. 

Artist List

1. Adeyemi Michael  

2. Dele Adeyemo 

3. Richard Zeiss

4. Jess Atieno 

5. Joiner Baingor 

6. Raquel Barrios 

7. Steeve Bauras 

8. Tom Bogaert 

9. Nicolas Carrier and Marie Ouazzani

10. Jerome Chazeix 

11. Tolu Coker & Ade Coker 

12. Ndidi Dike 

13. Ali Eman 

14.  Onyeka Igwe

15. Alessandra Ferrini 

16. Rahima Gambo 

17. Harold Hariwe 

18. HTL African 

19. Taiwo Aiyedogbon 

20. Favour Jonathan 

21. Seun Keshiro 

22. Dina Khouri 

23. Dominique Koch 

24. Dane Komijen  

25. Andréas Lang 

26. Ana Mendes 

27. Sabelo Mlangeni 

28. MOE+ Art Architecture 

29. Ezemezue Nneka 

30. Abraham Oghobase 

31. Temitayo Ogunbiyi 

32. Karl Ohiri 

33. Pedro Pires 

34. Victoria Samwelevna 

35. Sandra Poulson and Raul Jorge Gourgel 36. Nwandu Somi 

37. Karen Stewart and Ed Suter 

38. Hiroko Tsuchimoto 

39. Uthman Wahaab 

40. Juan Zamora 

41. Katrin Winkler



Heading 6

Folakunle Oshun

Gina Amama

Elsa Westreicher
Art Director

Opeyemi Balogun
Press Secretary

Jolomi Awala
Technical Director

Tobe Ifeanyi

Erika Holum
Project Manager

Fearanmi Ogundipe
Project Manager
(Curatorial Intensive)

David Ibazebor
Technical Assistant

Akor Opaluwah
Artist Talks Programme Coordinator

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The Lagos Biennial is Endorsed by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture
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