A Breathing Space Project
In 2020 we saw many of our assumptions about society, culture and economy upturned or broken. We saw in equal measure the emergence of possibilities for rapid and transformative change, and the deepening of existing fractures and injustices. It is clear we are inside a period of disruption that neither began nor will end with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in which the larger social-economic-ecological crises of our time become vivid and present. Against this backdrop, the Breathing Space grant programme of Pro Helvetia’s Johannesburg office looked to enable modest relief, or ‘breathing space’, for arts practitioners, organisations and networks across the subcontinent to rethink ways of working, to experiment with new formats of production, exchange and collaboration and reimagine the shape and position of cultural and creative work.
hFACTOR is a collective from Lagos Island, Nigeria, comprising Bubu Ogisi, Hannah Osunsina, Osione Itegboje and Tushar Hathiramani. Their work together revolves around sparking possibilities for collaboration and creation. For their current project, plan-b, the group has transformed an under-utilised building at 30 Ajasa Street into a new creative hub and living experimental space at the nexus of art & design, agriculture, wellness and city resilience.
Seetal Solanki of Ma-tt-er has been invited to collaborate remotely as curator for the Lagos space. Ma-tt-er is an internationally renowned relational practice that translates the material, immaterial and virtual world into objects, spaces and thoughts. Ma-tt-er proves the framework to develop a collective insight practice that yields a cross-fertilization approach between practices, people, place and plants.
hFactor explain: “Our methodology takes a creative approach towards city resilience via urban agriculture and will tinker with the idea of urban spatial design that lends itself to impacting Nigeria’s agricultural industry. Historically the largest employer of labour, Nigeria’s agricultural sector suffered during the oil boom of the 60s but has seen an upsurge in interest in mostly rural areas. Our project aims to breathe life into this sector within the urban space and perhaps even create a global use case.”
plan-b includes several interconnected components: an urban garden and fermentation lab, an online community radio station, a co-working space, artist studios and a lounge/bar, as well as the Ma-tt-er school, which takes the form of a maker space, plant dye garden and low-tech processing centre for agricultural produce supplied from the garden.