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Tokini Peterside, the founder of ArtX, the first international art fair in West Africa, speaks at the opening of the ArtX annual art fair at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, in Lagos on November 5, 2021.

Tokini Peterside, the founder of ArtX, the first international art fair in West Africa, speaks at the opening of the ArtX annual art fair at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, in Lagos on November 5, 2021.

Photo by BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images.

ART X Lagos Celebrates its Eighth Edition By Adding Film to the Mix

The ART X Lagos art festival kicks off with a tribute to the iconic Ousemane Sembène.

With Lagos Fashion Week wrapped up, it’s the art world’s turn to strut its stuff. ART X Lagos begins today and takes over the Federal Palace Hotel grounds on Victoria Island. This year’s event takes place with a few notable changes, including the addition of a film section.

ART X Cinema will present a screening program of artists' films that draw inspiration from the visionary Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. These films are set to give their take on Sembène's belief in cinema as a transformative medium; how he sought to reshape narratives and challenge conventions. A selection of video essays aims to delve into the innovative ways in which artists disrupt and reinvent storytelling, highlighting a rich tapestry of perspectives.

Featuring renowned artist-filmmakers such as Meriem Bennani, Jihan El-Tahri, Binelde Hyrcan, Goddy Leye, Betehlem Makonnen, Zen Marie, Qudus Onikeku, Fatimah Tuggar, and Ezra Wube, ART X Cinema will bring together emerging and established names from the African continent and the diaspora. This dedicated segment emerges as a significant addition to the fair, and shows its commitment to fostering creativity and diversity within the world of cinema.

Curated by Missla Libsekal, the inaugural screening program will show a diverse array of films and documentaries. According to the organizers, these works represent the intersection of art, culture, and storytelling, and are designed to provoke thought and inspiring conversations on contemporary issues — from Handsworth Songs by John Akomfrah and Lina Gopaul, which is an exploration of Black history that focuses on the 1985 riots in Handsworth and London, to Fatimah Tuggar’s Fusion Cuisine, which challenges gender, race, and technology narratives. The films have been selected to offer nuanced portrayals of real and imagined places and people, responding to and navigating socio-political circumstances within Nigerian, pan-African, and diasporan histories.

This year’s ART X Lagos takes place against the backdrop of exacerbated challenges across Nigeria and Africa itself. As a result, the fair has had to scale back the number of galleries participating, from 31 last year to 10 this year, which include Galerie MAM (Cameroon), Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria), Afriart Gallery (Uganda), Tiwani Contemporary (U.K. and Nigeria), and Gallery 1957 (Ghana). But it aims to still remain committed to shaping society through art, and solidifying its role as a community gathering place, as seen through its chosen theme for the year, “The Dialogue.”