The heartwarming announcement of the Access Art X Prize in Lagos drew a curtain on this season of Art X Lagos. It kicked off with a call for application in October, a grand return from the pandemic for Art X Lagos from November 4 to 6 and the unveiling of winners for the two categories of Access Art X Prize done in a hybrid ceremony to enable finalists in diaspora to witness the moment everyone had been waiting for. Dafe Oboro, a 28-year-old artist won in the Nigerian category while Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski won in the African/Diaspora category.
In her characteristic nature, Tokini Peterside Schwebig, the founder and Creative Director of Art X Lagos delivered warm opening remarks to usher in the fair in its seventh season.
“This year, we have been as ambitious as we’ve always been,’’ she began. “We are here to use art to uplift, to inspire. We very much believe that Art X LAGOS Is a place for inspiration, banters and very important conversations.
“We have a robust programme filled with so much. This year, one of the things we have tried to do is to double down on emerging talents especially in this challenging time. We have doubled the impact for Africa’s best artists and the diasporan artists.”
To affirm the international status of the fair, many new African galleries were featured, some for the first time at the fair touted to be the largest in West Africa.
“We brought artists from Tanzania, South Africa, Benin Republic, Angola and all over the continent. We even have Spotify as a partner this year for our ART X Live. In Nigeria, without the support of our sponsors, this experience will be impossible,’’ she said
Meanwhile, hundreds of university students visited the fair from outside Lagos to have a taste of over 120 featured artists- a significant increase to the existing record for Art X Lagos.
“For our debut edition, we had 60 artists showcasing and over the years, that has increased. We now have over 40 exceptional galleries from all over the world: Dakar, Luxembourg, Accra, Abidjan, Madrid, Barcelona, Cape Town and more,’’ she added.
The emotional moment when Peterside-Schwebig casually announced her pregnancy might not have caught many unawares especially with her new rounded figure well-covered in a flowing emerald dress. Without lingering on the joy of a widening family tree, she declared that Art X Lagos is in dire need of a bigger venue to meet the growing demands of its widening audience and participants.
The Group Head, Corporate Communications, Access Bank Plc, Amaechi Michael Okobi promised that Art X Lagos would get a new venue. He reiterated why the bank continues to support the arts over the years as the lead sponsor.
“In an increasingly dehumanising world, one of the greatest things that we have and that provides comfort is art. One of the safest places to be all over the world is Africa. You may be angry with Nigeria but guess what, it is a safe place to be compared to other places,’’
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended the organisers of ART X Lagos for putting the city on the global map for arts and pledged free documentation for the proposed new venue for ART X Lagos.
“We now know that ART X Lagos is a choice art destination every 11th month of the year,’’ he declared.
Recently, at the Access Bank Plc Headquarters in Oniru, Lagos, Peterside-Schwebig also expressed her joy at the growth of the ART X Prize which traditionally preceded the fair. But for the 2022 edition, the Access Art X Prize winners were announced three weeks after the fair.
“For us at art x, we are really thrilled to have sustained this platform for seven years, ably supported by Access Bank and now Access Corporation. This year we received six times the number of applications we received last year from emerging residents in Nigeria and from over 50 countries across the world.
“We and Access corporation have designed and developed a really strong and remarkable development opportunity for artists of African heritage and descent uniquely designed to meet emerging artists at their point of need.
As far back as 2016 when we launched Art X Lagos, we were unequivocally clear of the need to support emerging artists who in our part of the world were lacking the infrastructure they needed and the support to deliver their best. This led to winners of whom we are very proud.’’
In order to reflect the true Pan-African identity of Access Art X Prize, two categories of winners were created, one for the Nigerian artist and the other for African/Diaspora artists. Over 1500 applications were received.
“Our winners will receive a three month fully funded residency at Gasworks London for the Nigerian winner and the Yinka Shonibare’s G.A.S Foundation in Lagos for the African/diaspora. They will also receive a $10,000 grant each towards their exhibition for the Art X fair exhibition in 2023,’’ Peterside Schwebig said.
Chioma Afe who represented Access Corporation revealed how close to tears she was to see the tears of joy on the faces of the two unsuspecting winners of the Access Art X Prize 2022/2023.
“You are all winners and that is because you took pride in your craft and what you presented is excellent. Our vision is to provide that platform and to connect the communities to the globe. The partnership with Art X Collective is one of those ways in which we do that. We wanted to represent Africa in Nigeria. The access corporation is not a Nigerian story; it is an African story that is rooted in Nigeria and set to inspire the world. This partnership with access truly exemplifies what we believe.”
The curator for the prize, Jumoke Sanwo noted that the results were the product of a jury which included Prof. Peju Layiwola, and Victor Ehikhamenor. The winners would present their works at the next edition of ART X Lagos in 2023.