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‘You have a chance at something better’: Nigerian artist holds winning ticket

Winning project ‘Give us this Day’ by Anthony Ayodele Obayomi. (Rudimentary lottery machine used for Premier Lotto, also known as “Baba Ijebu”, which is the leading lottery and sports betting company in Nigeria). Anthony Ayodele Obayomi

Anthony Ayodele Obayomi’s photos from Nigeria explore his country's coping mechanisms for poverty, including playing the lottery, which he has compared to a religion. He has won a Swiss award for his work.

This content was published on October 22, 2020 - 11:00

Obayomi is the first visual arts laureate of the Lausanne-based Taurus Prize, which aims to help artists develop projects in their local areas and gain access to international audiences.

Project, Give us this Day. (A lottery booth where lottery numbers are written on the wall). Anthony Ayodele Obayomi

Obayomi scooped the CHF10,000 ($11,000) prize for his project “Give us this Day”, which examines the day-to-day coping mechanisms of his fellow Lagosians. Lotteries are one such way. Through his work the artist illustrates the barely sustainable living conditions in his area of Lagos. He compares lotteries to religion: both provide hope to people struggling to make a living in the poorest parts of Nigeria.

Lagos, Nigeria's largest city and home to some 21 million people, is made up of an island and a mainland section. In recent days, the city has faced a fresh set of challenges amid violence related to anti-police protests. Unrest has broken out across the state, which is under a 24-hour curfew, sparked by protests and the shooting of civilians by security forces on Tuesday evening.

The Taurus Foundation's artistic director, Valentine Umansky, decided to focus on finding artists on the mainland of Lagos after spending some time there. She felt that the mainland was under-represented artistically. 

“Lagosians living on the mainland have to travel to the islands to show, discuss, buy and exhibit art,” she told swissinfo.ch.

The Taurus FoundationExternal link was set up in 2013. The jury for the prize comprises people from the region chose as a focus for that year, who can better evaluate the relevance and knowledge of the artist behind the projects.

The Foundation has partnered with the LagosPhoto Festival for the opening exhibition, being held on mainland Lagos in October, and also Photoforum Pasquart in the Swiss city of Biel which aims to promote Swiss and international photography. The closing exhibition will be held there in January.

The title Give us this Day is taken from the Lord's Prayer. (Home altar). Anthony Ayodele Obayomi

Artistic development over two years

The Taurus Prize is only awarded once every two years because Valentine Umansky feels that women artists, in particular, struggle to deliver their projects within the usual restricted time spans due to maternity or organizing childcare. The foundation developed the prize so that there is a full year for each laureate to conceive of their project and a year for the two exhibitions in the region where it originated and in Switzerland.

The closing exhibition of Anthony Ayodele Obayomi is planned to take place between January 31 and April 4 next year in Switzerland. 

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