A multistorey hotel in Lagos’s financial district is hardly the first place you’d look for a cutting-edge fine-art photography exhibition. But beyond the meeting rooms and gyms, Eko Hotel & Suites is host to contemporary art space Art Twenty One. During the 10th annual LagosPhoto Festival (until 15 November) the gallery is showing Weke, a new series of images by Swiss-born, Tahiti-based Namsa Leuba, a stalwart of Lagos’s art scene since her 2015 residency at the same venue, when she created her series NGL (Next Generation Lagos, pictured).
Weke is one of several satellite events running during the festival, which typify the unconventional spaces of Lagos’s fractured yet thriving arts scene. Artists jostling out of venerable museums into mixed-purpose leisure spaces – is this yet another example of the famed “Lagos hustle”? Sort of. Nigeria’s lack of public arts funding and infrastructure “means that artists are going around finding rogue ways to show their art, sometimes in very random places,” says Tushar Hathiramani, the founder of hybrid bar-gallery-studio spaces 16/16 and H-Factor. Luckily, commerce and culture aren’t too conflicted in the national psyche, as Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes in Esquire: “Corporations aren’t viewed with the knowing suspicion so common in the West. ‘Branding’ is a word entirely free of irony. This is a city of blurred boundaries.”