During my time in Lagos I worked on a new site specific installation: ‘Ant Farm Lagos’, a multi-colored map of Lagos Island made of translucent ‘agar-agar’ – a vegetarian gelatin substitute – combined with sugar, tea tree oil, weeds, soil, black ants and white wine. The map is mounted on plywood cut out in the form of Lagos Island and rests on a construction of plastic stools. The installation functions as an ant farm with the gel serving both as habitat and nutrition for the ants. This allows the viewer to watch the ants turn the map into a colony of tunnels. ‘Ant Farm Lagos’ at this stage depicts what it means to be able to bend space to particular social, religious, political, and economic needs.
‘Ant Farm Lagos’ was made during the course of three intense weeks of building and cooking at the site of the Lagos Biennial – where the installation will eventually succumb to the process of decay.
‘Ant Farm Lagos’ is inspired by an ‘ArtSchool Palestine’ residency in Nablus in 2011, where I mapped remnants of ‘inverse geometry’, a so-called ‘high concept spatial technique’ used by the Israeli Defense Forces in their 2002 offensive against the Palestinian resistance, and described by Eyal Weizman in his ‘Walking Through Walls’:
“…soldiers moved within the city across hundreds of meters of ‘overground tunnels’ […] the military borrowed metaphors from the world of aggregate animal formation as ‘swarming’ and ‘infestation’…”
I’m convinced that a benign interpretation of the military concept of “the city as not just the site, but the very medium of warfare, a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux…” can be implemented in Lagos as a base for reflection and concrete action.