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African solutions: Lagos art fair tackles climate and culture


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LAGOS: A young boy on a bicycle and wealthy women in robes of bright African cloth walked past screens showing infrared images of a dystopian future in which simulated plants and flowers replace real ones destroyed by climate change.

They were among the hundreds who attended ART X, an annual fair in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial capital, which hosted more than 120 artists from 40 African countries and the diaspora.

The theme of the fair “Who will meet under the baobab tree?” it aimed to harness African wisdom to tackle problems from climate change to political crises.

“We wanted to harness art and creativity to address all the challenges we saw in our society,” founder Tokini Peterside-Schwebig told Reuters.

Beyond the fair, flooding has devastated farmland and displaced more than a million. Desertification has deepened conflict in Nigeria’s richly agricultural middle belt. And in other parts of Africa, drought has increased food insecurity.

The artists seek to assert their cultural identity by finding African solutions, they said at the fair that concluded Sunday as African and other leaders began meeting in Egypt for two weeks of United Nations talks to push for a global agreement on fighting against climate change.

“I think it’s very important to have a platform here at home, so that people can feel firsthand your emotions, feel your anger and all the narratives that you’re driving in the beginning…before they’re exported to the outside world.” said Julius Agbaje, 30, who exhibited his paintings at the fair.

Ify Obi, 24, standing next to her favorite piece, a giant woven design by Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor that strung plastic rosaries onto lace to create images of traditional African leaders, said she most appreciated works that amplified African culture. and African solutions.

“What kind of people are we if we are not thinking about the future?” she said.

(Reporting by Libby George; editing by Barbara Lewis)


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