Being the economic nerve point of Africa, it is no surprise that Lagos has strong ties with China and a history of bilateral trade and political relations. The economic, cultural, and political ties between China and Nigeria remain a bitter-sweet one as Chinese products imported into Nigeria are perceived as fake/sub-standard – but still meet the demands of daily life. These products in Nigerian Pidgin English are referred to as Chinco in contrast to their supposed original counterparts from Europe and America which are touted as original. The word Chinco is also used to refer to Chinese people in Nigerian Pidgin English. The word play on the tag of Chinese people living in Nigeria and the General perception of Chines products – Original Chinco is synonymous with the unending categories of goods in Lagos markets based on quality.
The Lagos work group has its focus on the engagement of Nigerians with products from China and the impact of cheap/substandard products on urban/pop culture and the general standard of living In Nigeria. It is also of great interest of the group to investigate the levels of interaction of Chinese businessmen living in Nigeria with the local community, and also the sojourns of Nigerian businessmen in China. The Lagos work group takes keen interest in the materiality and composition of goods imported into Nigeria; keeping a third eye on the cultural and historical elements that inspires the production of these goods for the Nigerian market.
The group also explores the larger macro-economic landscape of wholesale markets and manufacturing hubs across the city of Lagos, notably the Lekki free trade zone which is the latest economic Chinese footprint on Nigerian soil. The free trade zone which is the result of a bilateral trade agreement between China and Nigeria gives Chinese and Nigerian companies huge tax cuts as incentive to manufacture goods on a 155 square kilometers expanse on the outskirts of Lagos.
The starting point for the group has been to examine the extent to which Chinese products and the Lagos market encapsulate the concepts of globalization and consumerism. This has created a path-way to investigate the historical relationship between both parties and the trade agreements and compromises that have given rise to such a large commercial eco-system.
Curator: Folakunle Oshun
Ayo Akinwande, Photographer
Derin Ajao, Writer/ Editor
Opeyemi Balogun, Researcher
Allyn Gaestel, Writer
Taiye Idahor, Installation Artist
Bénédicte Kurzen, Photographer
More Information about the artists in BIOS