Yesterday we went to the Contemporary Centre of Art to meet up with Bisi Silva who is a contemporary African art curator and gallerist. This gallery is on the second floor of this building in Lagos which reminded me of some of the gallery spaces in New York, although in Lagos rather more difficult to find. She had organised a celebration to commemorate the first year of opening and had various speakers, one of whom was an art critic who had also spent some time in Nairobi - so we exchanged notes on this. Chocolate cake was order of the day!
Went to see Bisi Silva at her home today and we had a chat about the project and contemporary art in Lagos and Nigeria in general. Basically they lacked an informed audience Bisi told us, as the audience wants to see art for sale. The shows will only be on for about one week and then she said that most galleries will only promote the work on the first night, which again is problematic.
We discussed venues with her for our joint show. The venues we are thinking about for our shows in Lagos are Terra Kulture, British Council, National Gallery of Art, and the Lagos Museum, as a lot of other galleries we have seen tend to be more up-market craft outlets like the Quintessence Gallery. Basically we need to find a space that we can work with, rather than targeting ‘suitable venues’, as it seems few people go to see the exhibitions anyway! She said that she was going to give up the CCA in about 2011 as a) it was expensive and b) she did not want to keep doing the exhibitions especially every 6 weeks - she aims for 4 shows a year at the moment, and c) the religious thing is a serious issue that gets in the way of proper academic research and critical appraisal – this seemed to confirmed my views so far, although I had not been around long enough to gauge it. This latter issue was the third and perhaps the main reason for giving up her space, as it was something she found very difficult to get beyond in terms of her audience.
Bisi has an excellent blog which can be recommended.