Sebastian Barros based in London is a self taught portrait and documentary photographer who is making waves for a project away from home all the way in Lagos, Nigeria. Spending over two years in the city, the photographer immersed himself in the unique world, painting a vibrant picture of daily life through the eyes of the various citizens: from musicians to labourers, gangsters to students, hawkers to footballers.
Barros project expanded to a collaborative documentary with filmmaker Alex Simpson entitled Dambe. Following the life of Taye a Dambe boxer of the Hausa people of West Africa, the exhibition has become a specially constructed immersive experience, bringing the sights and sounds of Lagos into Juju’s Bar and Stage in Ely’s Yard, London.
Finding out on what inspired him to document Lagos, the photographer stated that he was partly inspired by one of his friends who at the time was out in Iraq and Syria reporting on the conflicts there. He was fascinated at the entrepreneurial but chaotic, sprawling and dynamic nature of Lagos and from that moment he knew it was where he had to go.
Barros work is widely believed to shed light on some vital social issues and when being asked if he thinks his art has the ability to evoke social/political change, his answer was YES!. Further stating that the power that art has is to connect people to their senses, body, and mind. This feeling can in turn spur thinking, engagement and action and what he is trying to do is to encourage the viewer into action but to engage their senses and for a moment be taken into the world they see in the image and then try to empathise with the subject.
In addition, on his thoughts on the impacts of social media, Barros feels it has a positive and a negative social impact. He noted that the negative impact social media has put is the pressure on artists to be continually creating work to feel relevant and creating a mindset of quantity over quality which is the opposite of what art is. The positive side is that social media has made it possible for artists from all over the world to collaborate and be inspired without necessarily having to travel incredulous distances. Further stating that if artists are going to use social media to promote and share their work, they need to do it with integrity and respect both your audience and the medium.
In conclusion, he stated that his last project in Lagos Is to explore traditional sports amongst the ethnic groups that live there and to make a short documentary film with Alex Simpson on the life of a Dambe Boxer and for his next work, he wishes to expand across parts of West Africa in places like Ghana and Senegal where traditional sports are quite popular within those communities.