April proved to be the busiest month to date at Guest Artists Space Foundation. A total of five practitioners based across Benin, the UK and the US were hosted both in Lagos and at the Farm House in Ijebu.
The first to arrive was London-based cultural curator, strategist and educator Nate Agbetu whose notable projects include Gaia’s Garden, and Our Time On Earth. The residency allowed Nate to experience Nigeria for the first time and provided opportunities to not only live and make work in the country but also foster deeper connections with his heritage. He spent much of his time networking, exploring creative spaces, broadening his understanding of Nigeria’s local arts ecosystem and connecting with cultural practitioners.
Nate Agbetu in conversation with Papa Omotayo during Third Spaces.
To mark the end of his residency Nate hosted Third Spaces, an evening of knowledge exchange, social innovation, and networking at G.A.S. Lagos. The event collaboratively explored how we make spaces for culture and included participatory co-creation sessions alongside a discussion between Nate and architect, designer and urbanist, Papa Omotayo.
Tobi Onabolu's Ogungun (masquerade) performance during his presentation of Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
Multidisciplinary artist Tobi Onabolu joined Nate in Lagos before departing for the G.A.S. Farm House where he spent the majority of his residency. The serene environment provided space to frame and contextualise his existing well-being practice whilst exploring notions of vibrations, performance and ritual within his native Yoruba culture. Upon his return to Lagos, Tobi exhibited Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?, an immersive installation and performance that interrogated the process of liberating the subconscious mind and the body from external forces of control.
An installation view of Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? by Tobi Onabolu.
Figurative painter Tunji Adeniyi-Jones spent the entire month at G.A.S. Lagos and used the time to conduct research in the city, connecting with artists, authors, performers and writers. During his stay, he was able to meet with legendary Nigerian printmaker, painter and sculptor Bruce Onobrakpeya at his Papa Ajo studio for an in-depth tour. To conclude his residency Tunji facilitated Interwoven Histories, a convening of contemporary artists Victor Ehikhamenor, Gbolahan Ayoola, and curator, artist, and G.A.S. Director Temitayo Ogunbiyi. The hour-long discussion offered insight into the studio practices, methodologies and careers of some of the most important artists working in Nigeria today.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones with Bruce Onobrakpeya at his studio in Papa Ajo, Mushin, Lagos.
The Foundation’s penultimate April resident was Beninese-French storyteller and researcher Laeïla Adjovi. Laeïla’s practice typically presents as a mixture of photography, visual art, and research and focuses on cultural hybridity, multi-layered identities, visible and invisible borders, and African cultural heritage. She used the duration of her residency to research Yemoja rites and Yoruba oral literature, connecting with relevant cultural practitioners, and visiting iconic homesteads of Yoruba culture, such as Abeokuta, Ife and Osogbo.
Prof. Owolabi, from the Centre for Yoruba Language Engineering (CYLE), Ibadan, and Labake Owolabi, secretary of CYLE, during Laeïla's meeting at Ibadan University.
The final resident to arrive was interdisciplinary artist and researcher Chiizii. Y.S.F. first worked with Chiizii in 2022 after she was awarded the Guest Projects Digital Research Residency. During her stay in Lagos Chiizii was able to continue her investigation into the role of art in preserving Igbo food culture, knowledge production, and information exchange. The opportunity was generously supported by South London Gallery where she will present the output of her residency later this year as part of Lagos, Peckham, Repeat: Pilgrimage to the Lakes, a major group exhibition looking at the connections between Lagos in Nigeria, and Peckham in south east London.
Nadine Siegert and Femi Akinsanya during a studio tour with Chiizii.