The Lagos 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.
Created and founded by artists in 2017, the Lagos Biennial is 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.
Through its 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.
Intrinsic to the Biennial’s identity is its locality; it both centres Lagos as a site of the production of avant-garde contemporary art narratives and specifically engages architectural sites in the city. The Biennial becomes both a gathering of artists and a work of art in itself.
The Biennial held its first edition at the running shed of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, which was built in 1955. The Second Edition of the Biennial was situated within the remains of the Independence House Lagos, an abandoned 25-story building donated to Nigeria by the British colonial administration at independence in 1960. The online third edition of the biennial in December 2021 took place after a series of multidisciplinary teams responded through an open call process to the theme of REFUGE, with 12 teams finally selected by a jury composed of Kunle Adeyemi, N’Goné Fall, and Kathryn Weir.
The Fourth Edition of the Lagos Biennial will open in 2024 at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos — a one hundred and fifty thousand square metre expanse of concrete which served as a racecourse under the British Colonial Administration and was later redesigned as a military parade ground. Within the layered historical monument, the 2024 2023 edition of the Biennial provokes reflection on construction of the nation-state. With an international cohort of artists in a deeply situated, multi-layered exhibition, the fourth edition reaches toward a reimagined future with alternative forms of community and togetherness.