Having worked with brands such as Moet Hennessey Nigeria, Maki Oh and Alara Lagos, strategy and business development consultant, Tokini Peterside, is venturing into something new; ART X Lagos, a fair designed to broaden Nigeria’s contemporary art scene. Here she talks to us about the challenges and her efforts to rebuild the connection between contemporary art and popular culture.
Tell us more about the ART X Lagos Fair happening this November. How did you come up with the idea?
ART X Lagos is a contemporary art fair designed to widen Nigeria’s connection to the contemporary art scene in Africa and the rest of the world. It will be the first international art fair of its kind in West Africa, and will feature over 65 artists from a variety of countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon and Benin Republic. ART X Lagos will happen over 3 days from the 4th to 6th of November 2016, at The Civic Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos. The art fair will feature some of the most established artists on the continent, but is also committed to showing emerging artists via the ART X Live! platform that will bring live drawing and painting into the art fair.
I attended art fairs for several years, just for fun, and began to question why it was that Nigeria – Africa’s second largest art market – didn’t have an annual large scale art experience of its own. I’m fortunate to count a number of artists and gallery owners as friends, and started to speak to them about the challenges they faced with their practices and businesses in Nigeria. I felt very strongly the need to play a role in the movement to empower African artists, and to support them as they sought to build their brands both locally and internationally. This led to the idea of an event that could engage the local, Pan-African and international communities, by bringing them to Lagos each year to see the best art from around the continent. I also felt that it was important to involve artists on the fringes of the art scene, whose work isn’t easily encountered by collectors because of their lack of affiliation with galleries, the atypical techniques they embrace, or because of the more provocative themes they explore in their work.
How long have you been working on this?
I have been nursing the idea for about 3 years now, but we only began implementing the project plan earlier this year.
How many artists will be exhibiting?
65 artists including South Africa’s William Kentridge, Zimbabwe’s Kudzanai Chiurai, Ghana’s Jeremiah Quarshie, Cameroon’s Barthelemy Togou, Mali’s Amadou Sanogo and Nigeria’s Sokari Douglas Camp, rubi onyiyechi amanze, Alimi Adewale, George Osodi, Victor Ehikamenor and Lakin Ogunbanwo to name a few. This number also includes emerging artists such as Kadara Enyeasi, Yadichinma and Tunde Alara.
And on what basis were they chosen?
We worked with our Artistic Director, Bisi Silva, to invite a select group of galleries to show at ART X Lagos. To develop the ART X Live! platform for the emerging artists, we worked with A White Space Creative Agency as co-curators.
Is this restricted to only Nigerian or African artists?
We will have artists from several countries around the continent.
The Lagos Art scene is known to be very narrow and elitist when it comes to art, restricting it to a certain type of crowd. What makes this different than the rest?
Our art fair has been designed to rebuild the connection between contemporary art and popular culture. We will have live art and sound performances, as we well as interactive projects to engage a broader audience. The former will see some of the fastest-rising stars in the Nigerian music industry collaborating in a live studio with emerging artists, while the latter will include projects such as a life-sized colouring book and an alternative photography studio.
What are some of the challenges you are currently facing, putting this together?
The initial challenge was in getting galleries to buy into our vision, and to believe that we were capable of pulling off the project this year, which has been a particularly tough year for the Nigerian economy. Fast forward a few months and our challenge is now not having enough capacity at our venue to include the many artists and galleries that are now eager to show at the fair.
What defines good art?
I would always shy away from the label “good art” – as I truly believe that art appreciation is subjective with no right or wrong answers. Like most people, I love art that tells a unique story (or tells an old story in a unique way), evokes a pleasurable emotion and inspires a conversation.
What makes a good artist?
A good artist is equivalent to a mad scientist, with a strong identity at his or her core, and an unwavering voice and identity, with which he or she seeks to speak to the world.
What should we expect to see?
A lot of people (art lovers and speculators alike), being provoked and inspired in equal measure, and having a great time.
More ART X Lagos
Visit the website: artxlagos.com
Founding Editor in Chief StyleMania magazine | Former Editor Genevieve magazine | Freelance Journalist and Fashion Director/Stylist | Contributor, Digital and Print, ELLE magazine South Africa. E-mail: Dimeji@elle.co.za
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