The Maker Lab is an expansion of The Maker, a bi-annual portfolio review program launched in 2013 for young emerging artists to showcase their work to diverse panel of judges and the public in a portfolio review. This year, African Artists Foundation launches a thrilling new exhibition space.
The Maker Lab, which is solely focused on creating a platform for artists (aged 18-35) to showcase their work. The Maker Lab is a career springboard for emerging artists creating dynamic art.
The Maker Lab endeavours to function as a safe space for artistic dialogue between artists and their audiences, where artworks can be gleaned, appreciated and collected. It will be a space where young collectors and artists can grow in tandem.
Located in a new loft space at the African Artists’ Foundation, the Lab will exhibit new and dynamic works by young contemporary artists working with the same or similar thematic media/subject matter. They will be afforded the opportunity to have their works installed for public viewing, creating avenues for discussion, critique and sales through exhibitions, organised workshops and public round table discussions.
Two singular artists emerged from the open call as the exhibitors for the inaugural exhibition of The Maker Lab titled ‘Here is Home’. Ayeni Olajide and Anthony Obayomi, artists who investigate elements of our built environment from complementary albeit distinct perspectives. Fidelis Joseph, a recent graduate from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, was also selected from the pool of submissions to create a custom mural for the exterior of the exhibition space.
In Bonafide Squatters, Obayomi brings a combination of aesthetic composition and visceral force, in chronicling the dire conditions of overcrowding at university hostels in Lagos, Nigeria. A city heaving with industrial and economic enterprise, Lagos is the most populated city on the African continent with skyrocketing housing prices, a by-product of persistent migration.
These rising housing costs are particularly challenging for students who find themselves at the bottom of the housing food chain. For the 57,000 students that were enrolled at the University of Lagos between 2016-2017, only 8000 bed spaces were provided, a number which has slumped and risks further degradation due to bureaucratic apathy in response to the plight of the students.
There is both a luminous purity and grittiness to Obayomi’s images, which document how students have resorted to paying to squat with friends, sleeping in classrooms and abandoned buildings, to function slightly above the margins of homelessness.
Ayeni’s body of work If Demolition Could Be Colourful illuminates on his fascination with what is left behind in the process of development. With pictorial representations of ruined buildings that run the length of Isawo road, Ikorodu, Lagos, Ayeni seeks to challenge the visitor’s aesthetic reasoning about dilapidation and beauty. The keen eye of the photographer captures split open ramshackles of vivid hues and muted tones, in a mode reminiscent of architectural section drawings, thus encouraging us to explore the underbelly by asking, “what will be remembered when a new beauty masks our memories?”.
Ayeni also documents how the inhabitants of Isawo road relate with the vestiges of their environment. Several of them had erected makeshift structures with discarded materials, emblematic of their resilience and adaptation to a new lifestyle, in an environment composed of beautiful ruins