14 Oct – 22 Nov 2017
Living on the Edge
The former suggests a logical mental exercise, while the latter reaches to the fringes of fantasy. Art, for too long, has proffered beautiful but unrealistic and unachievable solutions to the issues of society; asking more questions than it answers.
Should art remain in its most essential form, whether or not it achieves a tangible goal? Does it become necessary to examine the role of art in society, especially in the dimension of large-scale biennial interventions?
The city of Lagos, in its peculiarity as a commercial center and melting pot for diverse endeavors and cultures, holds a reputation for spewing out what does not add up materially. A historical slave and trade route, Lagos developed the culture of gate-keeping and taxation – where foreigners were welcome only to the reach of their pockets.
In an attempt to juxtapose the historical and contemporary realities in this dynamic space, it would be natural to place the spotlight on the current expressions of these ancient values, which have invariably become urban culture. The danger would be to subsist in a bubble and alienate one’s reality from a global politico-economic climate that is submerged under the currents of capitalism.
It may be savvier to investigate the realities of the losers in societies around the world – the unseen majority who are pushed to the brink of their existence; in both political and cultural ramifications. This, by far, offers a more realistic starting point for conversations set to engage the city of Lagos in years to come.
The vision is not to mystify or demystify, but rather to embark on a journey to explore multi-faceted scenarios which will undoubtedly question the very essence of our humanity, spirituality, and the interconnectedness of the universe.
If we were to take a portrait of the world, would it be life-giving? Would it be a collage of despair? The greatest challenge of this exercise would be to solicit the interest of local communities, which are key to the eventual plausibility of the continuum.
In essence, art will be put to the ultimate test; can it save the world or at least make an attempt? The narrative of the biennial, which shares its title with the 2012 project of Mozambican artist Mário Macilau, is expanded to accommodate the geographical, spiritual, and, most importantly, the psychological ramifications of living on the edge.
Founding Artistic Director
Lagos Biennial 2017