Our Offices & Partners Abroad

For detailed information please click on the offices and cultural centres below. For further information on the headquarters in Zurich please go to: www.prohelvetia.ch

SDC Visual Arts

Lagos Biennale

Lagos Biennale: How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?

26 October - 30 November 2019

Find out more

The 2nd edition of the Lagos Biennial (LB2) titled How to Build a Lagoon With Just A Bottle of Wine? Is co-curated by Antwan Byrd, Tosin Oshinowo and Oyindamola Fakeye. The title is appropriated from A Song for Lagos by the Nigerian poet Akeem Lasisi, which is a meditation on the history of the city recounting a time “When the lagoon was just a bottle of wine.” In the context of the LB2, the line conjures the herculean and inconceivable that characterizes the city’s “can-do” spirit, as well as speaks to the environment as a leitmotif underpinning the biennale.

The exhibitions and programming for LB2 will pivot around histories and contemporary engagements with architecture and the built environment—in and beyond Lagos—from social, political, and virtual perspectives. An archetype of a megacity in a postcolonial world, Lagos has been described as a cradle of contradictions and a city of the imagination and a state of mind. These pronouncements derive credence from the city’s expansive population, partisan politics, and creative effervescence. Since the advent of the twentieth century, Lagos’s urban identity, a convolution of tradition and modernity, has been the subject of feverish, and at times, fetishistic theorization. The efficacy and failures of planning and non-planning, as it relates to socioeconomic disparities, informal structures, ethics of citizenship, and the city’s apartness from, and entanglements with, the rest of the world have all been subject of critique. Rather than overtly revive these arguments on the problematics of the city as a backdrop for curatorial inquiry, How to Build a Lagoon With Just A Bottle of Wine? embraces and harnesses the unique characteristics of the city as building blocks of the biennial in its concept, aiming to open up conversations and invite reflection on environments across group and solo exhibitions, installations, and public programmes.

The Lagos Biennial is an initiative of the Akete Art Foundation, founded in 2017 by artist and curator Folakunle Oshun. The inaugural edition, Living on the Edge, was staged at the Nigerian Railway compound, Lagos Island in 2017.

Pro Helvetia Johannesburg will be supporting artists and projects at the LB2 from both our Swiss and Regional contexts.


CURATORIAL INTENSIVE 28 October – 4 November

The second edition of the Lagos Biennale will introduce an international curatorial intensive programme supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg. The programme will aim to facilitate the transmission of knowledge in the curatorial practice on the African continent, and reflect the vision of the Lagos Biennial which seeks to foster collaboration between art practitioners on and off the continent. The Lagos Biennial Curatorial Intensive will be open to emerging curators who are practicing and require expert advice for an on-going or future project. The programme seeks to facilitate new approaches in accessing knowledge and approaching topics and situations pertinent to African narratives in particular and the art of curating in general. The intensive will take place over a week and include seminars and workshops, designed to give participants access to seasoned professionals in the practice. Participants will undertake rigorous sessions designed to give precedence to their own world view while re-assessing popular terminologies and trends which are used to situate Africa in the global art discourse.

The Curatorial Intensive will be facilitated by leading cuator and thinker N’gone Fall (Chief Facilitator/Moderator) (Senegal), and co-facilitated by Patrick Mudekereza (DRC), Dana Whabira (Zimbabwe) George Mahashe (South Africa) and Kwasi Ohene-Aye (Ghana). Basel-based curator of the SALTS project space and Art Basel Parcours programme, Samuel Leuenberger also joins the team of curatorial mentors and facilitators. Guest lecturers will include Kathryn Weir and Antawan Byrd.


Swiss artist Dominique Koch will present a new work during the LB2. Dominique lives and works in Basel and Paris. Her conceptual works deal with forms, gestures and language of knowledge mediation as well as philosophical questions that are translated into spatial audio and video installations and objects. Dominique’s work often touches on questions of language, approached as much as code, as theoretical or narrative tool, physical materiality, sound, and nature. In her artistic process Dominique works from theoretical material as starting point, around which she develops analogical multi-media works. Dominique is interested in the subjective gap between language and meaning. This plays out in her style of film editing, which juxtaposes and combines disparate discourses, images and sounds.


Four artists from the region SADC region have been selected to produce new works for the LB2 that critically respond to this year’s theme. We will be supporting the participation of Sabelo Mlangeni (South Africa), and Sandra Poulson and Raul Jorge Gourgel (Angola).


In the context of the LB2, the directors of three Regional Mobility Partners from the SADC region working in the visual arts field will gather in Lagos for a programme of professional exchange and networking. This will coincide and interface with the three major visual art events taking place: the Lagos Biennale, Lagos Photo and ArtxLagos. In addition to Patrick Mudekereza (Waza Art Centre) and Dana Whabira (Njelele Art Station), partners include Rebecca Corey from Nafasi Art Space in Tanzania, Julia Taonga Kaseka from Modzi Arts in Zambia and Vitshois Mwilambwe from Kin ArtStudio in the DRC. The aim of this exchange is to develop networks between SADC and West African partners.