Exhibition: 17.06 – 04.09.2016
With over 250 photos and 5 videos by 24 contemporary artists, the exhibition paints a contemporary picture of life in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, which has experienced a massive population explosion in recent decades, becoming a megalopolis of an estimated 21 million inhabitants.
A glimpse into the future of ‘urbanity’.
Dey your lane! Lagos Variations is right on this year’s theme of Urban Vibes. It is one of the key exhibitions in the international photography biennial, Summer of Photography 2016.
In recent years, Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, has undergone unprecedented urbanisation. The population grew from less than half a million at the time independence was declared in 1960, to an estimated 21 million inhabitants in 2016. The expanding city has absorbed the surrounding suburbs in record time and has overtaken Cairo as Africa’s biggest metropolis. In spite years of the economic growth and the country’s enormous petroleum reserves, the rapid urbanisation has resulted in various growing pains. Since the late 1990s, when the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas grew interested in the city, architects, town planners, intellectuals and artists have been trying to fathom the fascinating city. In spite of infrastructural challenges, enormous population pressure and institutions that are inchoate and in other contexts would be declared as not-fit-for purpose, the megalopolis does seem to be functioning. Contemporary creativity is thriving in the hustle and bustle of city life. The city isn’t only the commercial and financial heart of Nigeria, but also the center of Africa’s music, fashion and film industry (‘Nollywood’).
‘Dey your lane!’ is a common expression on the streets of Lagos and pretty much means: ‘mind your own business’. This is where the notion of individuality comes in, a trait that is key to life in Lagos: the city remains livable through creativity, innovation and the sense of adventure adopted by individual citizens. Without much help of neither the government nor overseas organisations, inhabitants manage to organise daily life in an organic way. A great example of this is the ‘Danfo-bus’ – used by millions of passengers every day, an informal system that replaces the non-existent public transport.
Dey Your Lane! Lagos Variations displays different visions of Lagos through the recent work (2008-2016) of 24 African and international photographers who have experienced the intriguing city from the inside. Their work takes a look at, not just the busy, crowded, noisy Lagos, but also the intimate, darker Lagos, and the dreams, aspirations and fears of ordinary people who populate the city. The city, with its ultra-modern skyscrapers squeezed in alongside hastily erected settlements, is a sort of gigantic laboratory in which people experiment on a daily basis as they look for new forms of society. The exhibition presents a new image of urban contemporary Africa and gives us an announcement of the future: a taste of the direction towards which our urbanised world could evolve.
The exhibition is organised around 3 chapters which shed light on the numerous facets of urbanised Lagos. The individual in the city is central to the introductory chapter. In Lagos you are surrounded by masses of people, isolation and solitude are never far away in a metaphorical sense. There is a sense of urgency that is common to all large cities. The next chapter opens into the intangible, multifaceted character of the city itself. The final chapter focuses on the intimate tales, dreams and aspirations and fears of Lagosians. Visitors are welcomed by a real Danfo-bus at the Place Horta entrance to the Centre for Fine Arts.
The exhibition has received generous support from and will be opened by Lagos State Governor Mr. Ambode himself. He, as BOZAR, believes in the power of art to change the image of the city and country.
BOZAR / Centre for Fine Arts
Rue Ravensteinstraat 23,