This Year, Art X Lagos Sparks More Dialogue 

With a few landmark additions, this year’s edition of ArtX Lagos, which revolves around the theme, “The Dialogue”, sought to get more artists involved than ever before, Tokini Peterside-Schwebig tells Yinka Olatunbosun 

Inviting views. Warm embraces. Exciting works. These are all essential parts of what have made Art X Lagos a cultural staple. A first in West Africa, this weekend is yet another gathering of art enthusiasts, curious minds, and collectors. Seven years ago, the founder of Art X Lagos, Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, arrived on the art scene in Lagos with an unprecedented three-day fair beginning with a VIP opening at the Federal Palace Hotel. This year is no different except for a few landmark events that have been incorporated to heighten the experience for the thousands of visitors.

In an exclusive interview with Peterside-Schwebig, THISDAY gathered much about the new paths that the fair is charting on the cultural landscape in Africa.

“This year, there is a need and space for dialogue,” she began. “Different sectors are going through various challenges and situations. We have a theme this year:  The dialogue. We want the fair to be a place for conversations and contemplation. In the previous years, we had the dominance of art galleries at the fair. This year, we would scratch that. This year’s edition is going to get more artists involved than ever before.”

Although the fair will only showcase 10 galleries this year, the strength of the event rests on the strong, ambitious projects and innovative ideas behind them. For the first time, Art X Lagos showcases Art X Cinema, a cinematic experience within the fair stand.

Describing this exhibit, Peterside-Schwebig said that it is the culmination of years of video installation segments that birthed the idea of Art X Cinema.

“This will be the epicentre of the fair,” she disclosed. “The film that we will showcase will explore the interplay that has existed between art and film. Art X Cinema will be experienced across all four days of our fair, with a very detailed programme showcasing films across Africa and in the diaspora. We have never at the fair showcased a film that shows the connection between film and art as an integral feature of the fair. We also have very ambitious special projects this year.

A very special spotlight on Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya is one of the highlights of the fair. As a revered member of the Zaria Art Society, Onobrakpeya is being honoured with a presentation of his unique body of works, which showed the interplay between art and literature. Showing the influences of the works of Cyprian Ekwensi, Wole Soyinka, and other literary giants, the works serve as a window into our cultural history and values.

“We will also see the presence of the Ghanaian artist, Ibrahim Mahama. He is a globally successful artist and the founder of Red Clay Studio, Savannah Centre for Contemporary Arts, and Nkrumah Volini,” she added.

“We will also see the presence of the Ghanaian artist, Ibrahim Mahama. He is a globally successful artist and the founder of Red Clay Studio, Savannah Centre for Contemporary Arts, and Nkrumah Volini,” she added.

While the ticket prices remain the same, the stakes are higher this year. It is more important than ever before for the fair to redefine itself and reflect the resilient spirit of African artists as a whole.

For Peterside-Schwebig, Nigeria’s reputation as a film capital in Africa must be sustained with projects that amplify the diverse artistic voices.

“We are well aware that beyond the works that traditional filmmakers create, many artists in their careers have produced films that speak to different experiences in the society. We just wanted to be the avenue to join that. This is going to be a space and session within the fair where audiences will be invited to question and where hopefully, our intention is to spark dialogues. I should say at this juncture that when people hear our theme ‘The Dialogue’ they may presume that the entire fair is simply talks and conversations. The experience this year is about sparking dialogues among our audiences.” 

Meanwhile, the winners of the Access ART X Prize 2022 edition are Dafe Oboro (Nigeria Prizewinner) and Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński (Africa/Diaspora Prizewinner) are already enjoying the dividends of their victory.

Dafe spent three months at Gasworks in London for a residency courtesy of Access Holdings while Belinda had hers in Lagos at G.A.S Foundation founded by Yinka Shonibare. The two artists are showcasing their solo exhibitions at the fair reflecting personal memories and experiences in their families while also speaking to their journey as artists. 

The fair which ends today will be another experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

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