Sunday, 8 June 2014

Unfurling of the Obiagos via lens


By Tajudeen Sowole
Having found additional passion in curating art exhibitions, documentary filmmaker, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago brings in photography as a funnel through which she is distilling her  creative ebullience garnered across the genres.
  But she is not alone in the photography mission; her daughter Amara Obiago (b. 1995) joins the curator in a mother and child debut exhibition titled Unfurling, which opens from Monday, June 4, ending ;on August, 30, 2014 at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos.
  "Unfurling is our expression of revealing, unwrapping things around us, " Sandra explained to select guests during the preview of the exhibition. She added that the joint show is also about "how memory and meaning can be reflected through everyday objects within everyone’s reach."

 Close up shots of Adire, from Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago’s lens.


  Whoever goes to see Unfurling trying to sniff a gap between a professional and amateur photography may be in for a surprise: the images have no such lines drawn between the works of the two exhibiting phptp artists. In fact, one of the works that “inspired" the central theme is Amara"s. A leaf captured at the embryo and through a photosynthesis stage, graphically unwrapping into full birth or ripe says so much about the young Obiago''s eyes for creative photography.
  Amara, according to Sandra, has been using camera to take snap shots since she was eight. And with the guidance of a mother who has been imploring photography as an extension of her filmmaking career, Amara's love for the camera lens appeared to have headed for incendiary expression. Other works of the young Obiago that confirm she can go a far distance in photography include a painterly EFX image of a landscape La Fuite, Curl and Akuka.
 With easy access to camera as well as the aid of post-production digital gadgets, photography has become a common medium of all shades of expressions. And sometimes accidental or sub-conscious shots are mistaken for creative rendition. Despite missing the pre-digital period of photography when she developed her passion, Amara seems to know the difference between snapshots and conscious or composite creative picture.  "Photography is not much more about the gadgets, but being creative enough to take the right picture at the right time, place and time," she said.
  And where post-production digital imaging comes into some of her works, Amara argued that EFX (special effect) in photography should be subtly applied and not "obvious" such that it loses the contents
  A daylight photo wiz-kid, Amara explained how timing is crucial "I pick out an object, a smile, a pose… really a distinct moment in time that can never be reproduced."
  For Sandra whose works include some of the pictures taken during her filming projects and others outside the film locations, making her debut photography exhibition in a joint show with her daughter goes beyond the personal expressions of mother and child. She stressed that the exhibition, built on the strength of an 18 year old and a middle age mother's views of life could inspire people to share their hidden creativity.
  Some of Sandra's works include a dancer captured in monochrome standing on one feet on another's head; and close shots of design prints from the adire queen, Nike Davies-Okundaye's works.
  Sponsored by Ruinart, “the worlds’ oldest established Champagne house”, and the Global Energy Group in collaboration with The Wheatbaker, Unfurling adds to the success of the space’s mission known as Collectors’ Series.

Amara Obiago’s Curl of a shot of unfolding leaf.

When Sandra started what was tagged Collectors Series in 2011  - a new innovation on the Lagos' art space that formed synergy between hospitality and art -  the direction wasn't exactly clear to many observers. Over three years after, and about ten or more exhibitions still counting, Wheatbaker appears elated with the partnership. Architect and director at the hotel, Mosun Ogunbanjo disclosed that "I am so proud to see how Sandra is using Wheatbaker to provide art appreciation," Ogunbanjo told the guests during preview.

Stepping up the appreciation, Unfurling carries with poetry as Sandra and Amara support their work with few poems.

Poetry and photography, according to Sandra’s Artist Statement are personal artistic expression. Her filmmaking background, she explained cannot be divorced from the total expressions in photography and poetry combined “Coming from a film background, which is a group art form, I have always felt solace and comfort in retreating into myself and creating with no one around.”

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