In a show of solidarity, the organizers of Art x Lagos have announced that the fifth edition of the West African contemporary art fair has been postponed to an as-yet undecided date amidst the #EndSARS protests that have been rocking the country since early October.
"We have watched with deep sadness the heartbreaking events of the past week, beginning with the violence against protesters in Lagos and across other parts of the country. In light of this, and out of respect for the lives lost, we have decided to postpone ART X Lagos 2020 until later in the year, and will announce our new dates in the coming weeks," the fair's organizers said on Instagram.
The fifth edition of the Art x Lagos art fair was scheduled to take place November 6-15 in Lagos, where, for several weeks, thousands of Nigerians have been protesting against police violence and for better governance in the West African country.
The protest movement originated on social media following the publication of a video allegedly showing officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) roughly handling two young men before opening fire on one of them. The #EndSARS hashtag soon went viral on Twitter, where celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Burna Boy, Cardi B and Wizkid showed support for the Nigerian protesters.
On October 11, the Nigerian government announced that it was disbanding the specialist police unit, but thousands of people continue to gather in peaceful demonstrations in the country's major cities, demanding an end to police brutality.
Although the fifth edition of Art x Lagos has been postponed, the organizers state that the decision does not affect the fair's "dedication to championing the excellence, creativity and resilience of artists from Africa and the Diaspora."
The founder and chief executive of the fair's parent company ART X Collective, Tokini Peterside, told Artnet News that she looks forward to a time when the country's artistic community can come together to "contemplate society's shared demands and expectations for tomorrow, and to meditate on new ideas for how our global community might move forward as one."
The fair recently launched an open call to 100 photographers and filmmakers working on the frontlines of the #EndSARS protests to apply for support. The organizers said they received almost 1,000 requests in just two days, and that a selection of the images will be presented at the rescheduled edition of the fair.