Call for applications

Lagos Biennial III – Refuge

Lagos Biennale, Lagos, Nigeria
Deadline: 30 April 2021

Tafawa Balewa Square

Tafawa Balewa Square

In the turmoil of a global health crisis with unevenly distributed impacts – coming as the catastrophic culmination of a global system which systematically skews access to human rights, health care, and freedom of movement – it becomes all the more urgent to critically assess our accepted modes of governance and to speculate on what may constitute refuge. The biennial offers an opportunity to reassess the promises, disappointments and ongoing ramifications of the dominant national state model, with its panoply of modes of governance under the aegis of global capital. The critical issues of this 21st century – even though global in reach – are played out in local, national and regional spaces. Their profound implications and effects on our lives are enabled and activated in the present by choices made at the level of the individual or community.

The third edition of the Lagos Biennial opens a space for the critical analysis of the nation state as locus of political action and vector of belonging, allegiance and identity, linking this to the imperative to construct an operative notion of refuge that may offer alternate paths towards constructing sustainable communities.

For its 3rd edition, the Lagos Biennial invites submissions from teams – including curators, artists, collectives, designers and architects – that speak to the institution of the nation state and the concept of refuge.This edition of the biennial will adopt an online/remote format, with physical models displayed in either private and public spaces in the home countries of participating artists. Drawings, concepts, renderings and text will be documented in a three edition publication of the Lagos Biennial which will also catalogue the first two editions of the biennial, the 2017 and 2019 editions respectively.
These models may further be developed and exhibited in the 2023 edition of the Lagos Biennial which will take place in the heart of Lagos, on the historic grounds of Tafawa Balewa Square, a site named in honour of the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. The biennial will reappropriate and subvert the format of country representation within a eurocentric history so-called universal exhibitions and biennials, creating a premise for discussion of political alliances, allegiances, territory; sovereignty, regionality, and the very notion of belonging. LB3 welcomes theoretical speculations and propositions in conventional and non-conventional forms, equally aiming to invert models of biennial-making, moving from the work as ephemeral or material end-in-itself to generative propositions, models and prototypes that will continue to activate possibilities in the world.


By situating Lagos as a global geopolitical nerve-point and an international hub for artistic expression, the intention is to open a speculative space for the fabrication of alternate realities, engaging imaginative and theoretical processes in an assessment of the rationale and future of nation states and other governance structures that have historically served the extractive machinery of capital. A number of Pavilions will be dedicated to imagined, informational/crypto, and microstates.
Submissions are also invited from teams with architectural expertise proposing to build larger-scale structures in the outdoor space of the grounds of the Tafawa Balewa Square in 2023.

Unlike the first two Editions of the Biennial which explored the built environment through abandoned national structures, the Third Edition of the Lagos Biennial will have as its focus the design and construction of large-scale ‘models’ or prototypes which may or may not house other artistic forms of expression. We also welcome individual manifestations in the form of: performance, sound, video, and dance. Applicants should keep in mind the physical/outdoor nature of the exhibition where selected proposals will eventually be exhibited in 2021

An international jury will assess all applications and make a selection which will be announced on 25th April 2021. Applications will be assessed on the basis of their conceptual rigour, feasibility and interpretative power in relation to the biennial’s focus on the concept of “Refuge”. The Jury has the final decision on pavilion selection for the 3rd Edition of the Lagos Biennial.

The Jury is: N’Goné Fall, Kathryn Weir, Kunlé Adeyemi


Each Refuge will consist of at least one, and not more than 6 artists/architects/Designers.

Each Refuge will consist of at least one Curator

Applications can be made by Embassies, Curators, Artist collectives (Imagined states), National Museums, National Art Councils, Art Councils.

Only one Refuge will be selected per country/city/province

Applications should list the names and bios of:
– Curator(s)
– Artists
– Commissioner/Sponsor

A Refuge can range in size from minimum of 50sqm to a maximum of 500 sqm

Applications should include:

  1. A concept note (500 Words Max)
  2. Sketches/drawings/3D renderings/Photographs
  3. Web links to previous work or portfolio of team members

Applications should be sent ONLY to

Deadline: 30th April, 2021




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