No Victor, No Vanquish: The World at the Crossroads
The debut of the Iwaya Community Art Biennial (ICAB Lagos 2021) picked its theme “No Victor, No Vanquish: The World At The Crossroads” – as a remix of two extreme historical statements: ‘No Victor, No Vanquish’ the speech title of late Gen. Yakubu Gowon at the end of the Biafra Civil War in Nigeria and `Burma: A Nation At The Crossroads,’ the title of Benedict Rogers’ book on Burma (now Myanmar) several years of civil war. Multi-ethnicity being the bedrock of civil war in the two global south countries reminds us of uncertainty, immobility, and anxiety that engulfed every nation around the world as COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic in 2020. The arrival of the novel coronavirus exposed the porosity of health systems in several nations around the world. And the global south suffered more on various grounds that led to the probe of government policies and political standings through protests and uprisings – #EndSARS in Nigeria, #MillionManMarch in Sudan, #BlackLiveMatter in the US, to mention a few.

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What art is to the regular few within the walls of White Box spaces might not appeal to the art-taste of the multitude of people living on the fringe in the metropolitan city of Lagos.
They cannot afford to leave their micro-comfort spaces to encounter art in spaces that unmasked them. In catering for this section of the public in the cosmopolitan city of Lagos, an annual gathering of contemporary visual artists around the world for artistic research and interventions was birthed in the Iwaya/Makoko community, a suburb of the city’s mainland. After five years of the yearly gathering of interdisciplinary artists, social researchers and artist/independent curators in Iwaya community for the Iwaya Community Art Festival (ICAF Lagos), it becomes a biennial – Iwaya Community Art Biennial (ICAB Lagos).

ICAB Lagos is pensive with thematic concern on how humanity fared in 2020 and how people are currently dealing with the ‘post’-COVID-19 new normal in the global cosmopolis. Just like the atmosphere in a typical civil war, the novel coronavirus broke out in 2020, albeit vaccines and other measures have been put in place, it might take a few more years for the world to reel itself of the rippling impacts of COVID-19 in all spheres of life. It is pertinent for artists in this time of pandemic and economic epidemic to be conscious of happenings around them, reflected through their personal confrontations and tensions in their artistic interventions.

Through reference, five local artists/collectives would be selected to participate in the ICAB Lagos Artist-in-Residence (AiR) programme, from 10th November to 18th December 2021. This will afford the artists to be on the move again and meet with people in a new space to experience and exchange memories of the past year. Selected artists will have the opportunity to integrate into the family life of the community and as well as develop their practices during the residency period. The work created or ideas generated through research in collaboration with the locals will be presented as site-specific interventions, performances, workshops, and artist talks in alternative and abandoned spaces within and around the Iwaya/Makoko community.

ICAB Lagos is an artist-run community-based gathering of contemporary and interdisciplinary artists. This biennial will largely feature multimedia projects: audio/visual experimentation created through communal research, interaction and collaboration with ordinary people living within and outside the community.

For the duration of the biennial week, the work of more than 40 local and international artists/collectives from the VAL network of artists and social-conscious art institutions in the global south and the global north will be presented to more than 250,000 people in different locations of the community and its environs.

Author: vernacular

Aderemi Adegbite is a multimedia artist born and raised in Iwaya community. As an interdisciplinary artist, Aderemi’s current focus questions individual realities and truth(s) that stretch(es) across the societal fabric as constants for an elastic socio-system.

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