Wey dey move is a Nigerian Pidgin term with multiple interpretations. It can mean “the path changes”, or describe the cultural phenomenon of things changing. It’s also the title and heartbeat of this exhibition. Wey Dey Move celebrates the important role movement and dance play in the spiritual, social, and ecological cultures of Lagos, Nigeria, and other major cities in West Africa.
In Wey Dey Move, we follow the rhythms and sounds of Afropop, Amapiano and Afrobeat tracks onto the streets of Lagos. There, people organise and choreograph dance parties and festivals among markets and in the shadow of enormous urban construction projects. Lagos has a long and complicated history, from its origins as a Yoruba lagoon settlement to its period as a centre of the slave trade and British colonial capital, to its rapid economic and cultural development into the sprawling, vibrant and diverse hive of creativity it is today.
The city expands and contracts with the tides of the Atlantic Ocean, the wet season’s floods, and the needs and whims of its people. It’s a place where young people build on tradition, spiritualism, and masquerade to create joy in a constantly changing world. It’s also a place where grassroots resistance movements rise from this ocean of creative expression to claim power.
Adeyemo’s film Wey Dey Move, written with Hermes Chibueze Iyele and Sunday Ozegbe Obiajulu, is the exhibition’s centrepiece. It shares the creative energy of a group of young people living in Oworonshoki, a lagoon-side community in Lagos. The film immerses us in the magical potential of everyday life in a city perpetually under construction. Short films shown around the gallery share interviews with leading figures in the dance scene and activist movements, as well as perspectives from young people at festivals and masquerades. The installation celebrates how traditional lagoon lifestyles, spiritual practices and urban youth culture create communities that can resist and persist amongst the destructive nature of speculative urban development.