Friday 2 November 2012

Life of Lagos... global lens zoom on Centre of Excellence

By Tajudeen Sowole

Co-rdinator of LagosPhoto 2012, Zainab Ashadu (right) speaking at the VIP opening…recently.
In using art as strong content to promote tourism and creativity, LagosPhoto 2012, which featured participants across the world, appears to have taken a leap towards making Lagos a photography destination.

FEW days after the VIP opening of LagosPhoto — a yearly gathering of photographers from across the globe — at its regular venue, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, the fragrance of a creative world merging into one city was still fresh in the air. With 7 Days in the Life of Lagos as the theme of the 2012 edition, photographers, including big names from Europe and the U.S., captured the city in diverse moods and perspectives. 

Apart from the grand opening, satellite exhibitions were also opened at nine centres across the metropolis. And it was not just about exhibition; there were workshops too, which touched on various aspects of photography as a discipline from which young and established local photographers exchanged ideas with their foreign counterparts.

From American and five-time World Press Photo Contest winner Stanley Greene’s work on e-waste, to Dutch’s Hans Wilschut’s urban landscapes and Nigeria’s international photographer, George Osodi’s skylines as well as Kelechi Amadi-Obi’s human elements, LagosPhoto 2012 captured the city beyond the regular images in the mass media.
Organised by African Artists Foundation (AAF) with the support of Etisalat and Goethe Institut, Lagos, the show paraded photographers such as Jenevieve Aken, Halima Abubakar, Bunmi Adedipe, Segun Adelila, Aderemi Adegbite, Akintunde Akinleye, Andrew Esiebo, Chinenye Godsproperty John, Jide Odukoya, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Olayinka Oluwakuse III, Bayo Omoboriowo, Olayinka Sangotoye, Alafuro Sikoki and Lolade Cameron Cole (Nigeria).   

Others were Medina Dugger (U.S/France), Benedicte Kurzen (France), Ruth McDowall (New Zealand), Delphine Fawundu (Sierra Leone/U.S.), Margherita Trestini (Italy), as well as Judith Quax, Maja Flink, Jane Hahn, David de Jong and Andrea Stultiens (The Netherlands).

On the upper floor of the venue, Amadi-Obi’s four-picture story of a Family, which depicts two worlds of new fashion trend and architecture that bridges colonial and post-1960s design in Lagos exuded the artist’s revered name in modeling photography.
In Trestini’s work titled A City of Contrast, the odd mix of Lagos resonates as lower income and middle class settlements compete with aristocratic kind of buildings within a space.

For visitors, it is glaring to note that in Lagos, “life is so overwhelming such that it is sometimes difficult to focus your eyes on the urban landscape.”

However, ‘son of the soil’, Osodi’s Lagos Uncelebrated shows that in the quietness of the night, the glittering and serenity of Lagos could be a beauty to behold. Though the work looks like a filtered piece, the blue dominance, sparkled by automobile headlamps on the bridge, dissolving skyline into the water and beams of lights from the building, all make the telephoto shot one of the great attractions of the LagosPhoto 2012 exhibits.

For Greene, Nigeria’s management of its e-waste is a focus. Though captured in black and white at informal recycling centres in Lagos, the works stress authority’s recurring indifference to the country’s growing profile as a nation of dumping ground. 

Urban architecture and landscaper photo-artist, Wilschut flaunts his familiarity of Lagos’ central business district in a three-picture contribution. Of immense compositional photo is an image titled Sealed Property in which the artist blackens out a space from the sea of high-rise buildings.

With the first and the last editions of LagosPhoto held in 2010 and 2011, which focused on modern African cities and urbanization, the organisers have consolidated with 7 Days in the Life of Lagos to give the city a photography destination.

In 2010, the theme was No Judgment: Africa Under the Prism while the 2011 version, in collaboration with the European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and supported by Etisalat was tagged What’s Next Africa? -The Hidden Stories. When LagosPhoto opened in 2010, about 40 photographers across the world participated.

Ahead of the show and during a preview, organisers had tasked participants to “capture the energy and vibrancy that make the city of Lagos such a unique cultural environment.”

Also disclosed was the point that the show might “lead to a book publication, Lagos: Entropy Unchecked.”

The 2012 edition of LagosPhoto, it was said, had Greene doubled as director with Azu Nwagbogu and Caline Chagoury, while Dugger and Joseph Gergel were co-curators.

Zainab Ashadu of AAF hinted that participating photographers’ works were produced based on their experiences in the city. She explained the process as including nomination of photographers “to document aspects of life in the city with an extended photographic project.”

Areas of focus were religion, architecture, culture, nightlife, economy, music, lifestyle, sports, government, and infrastructure. The whole concept, it was explained, was to provide diverse perspectives to the daily life in a Lagos of dynamic socio-economic activities. And the importance of photography in urbanization leads to LagosPhoto’s “philosophy in documenting and inspiring change,” through images.

Further expanding the scope of the photo festival, photography workshops, anchored by Fawunda and Flink, the organisers disclosed, were held at AAF’s gallery in Ikoyi.

The Executive Director of AAF Nwagbogu noted that the festival “is now a mainstay” in Nigeria’s culture calendar, adding, “It is also the place to capture the works of the leading contemporary photographers working in Africa today.”

And with such sub-events as workshops and photo competition for amateur photographers, LagosPhoto, he added, “also offers a springboard for emerging photographers. It is a conduit through which present and future photographers are celebrated.”
A section of participants at the opening.
Perhaps, while stressing the development aspects of the project, winners of the LagosPhoto Amateur Photography Competition such as Adeola Olagunju, Babatunde Oladapo and Tunde Adegboye were given opportunity to show their works with professionals at the LagosPhoto 2012 festival.

Other venues included on the list were AAF Gallery, Nimbus Gallery, A White Space, Omenka Gallery, Federal Printing Press, Kalakuta Fela Museum, Muri Okunola Park, University of Lagos, and the Falomo Roundabout.

LagosPhoto is sponsored by Etisalat, Eko Hotel & Suites, and Arts Collaboratory. Other partners include Samsung, Kis, Konica, Skysnap, Universal Furniture, Ltd, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), and Studio 24.

It also received blessing from Goethe-Institut, Spéos Photography Institute, Air France, Martini, Bacardi, Grey Goose, and Porsche.

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