Nigerian Photographers Capturing the Unorthodox

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  1. Uche James-Iroha

In a career spanning two decades, Uche James-Iroha has been described as a ‘leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers.’ Currently the director of Photo Garage, a Lagos-based platform for Nigerian and global intellectual photography exchanges, he is the director of Depth of Field, the collective that has influenced the likes of Uche Okpa-Iroha and Emeka Okereke. In his diverse work, he fuses the creative language of imagery with the documentation of everyday reality while addressing wide-ranging issues from economic imperialism to the brutal relationships, which exist between races, social class and gender.

  • Adeola Olagunju

Adeola Olagunju is a rising photographer who lives and works in Lagos. Developing the art of the performative self-portrait, her series, Resurgence: A Manifesto, looks both inwards and outwards to construct a sense of identity as a means of resistance. In bold black and white, her images speak volumes as they stage the photographer’s attempt to break free from ‘mental shackles. She explores themes around the Self, Memory spirituality and the social landscape with documentary and conceptual approach.

  • George Osodi

George Osodi is an internationally acclaimed photojournalist whose daring and honest images have changed the face of Nigerian photography. Returning to his home in the Niger Delta, Osodi spent four years capturing the environmental degradation of the region caused by multi-national oil firms. Culminating in the momentous book Niger Delta – Rape of Paradise, the photographs offer an almost apocalyptic vision, with human forms foregrounded against a backdrop of rising flames and thick clouds of smoke, creating a powerful sense of urgency in the face of such carnage. More recently, Osodi has turned his focus to the urgency of documenting and archiving traditional Nigerian culture.

  • Aisha Augie-Kuta

In 2011, Aisha Augie-Kuta won the Future Award for Creative Artist of the Year for her Faces of Africa portrait series, a collection of portraits of female faces elaborately painted to re-enact the vibrant patterns of the Surma Tribe of Ethiopia. Based in Abuja, Augie-Kuta’s experience as a mixed-race, mixed-tribe woman is a dynamic source of inspiration, enabling the artist to explore gender and identity in complex ways, using juxtaposition to play with the idea that every story has two sides. However, shot on a wide lens, Augie-Kuta’s striking photographs reveal an unexpected interior world of colour.

  • Emeka Okereke

Emeka Okereke has continued to push the boundaries of contemporary African photography. He founded Invisible Borders, an annual photographic road trip across Africa involving a team of artists and photographers to explore new ways of portraying the continent and transforming African society. His work engages with the idea of possibilities and the politics of representation, preoccupied with the need to examine and transcend pre-defined borders.

  • Andrew Esiebo

Andrew Esiebo started out in photography by chronicling the rapid development of urban Nigeria as well as the country’s rich culture and heritage. As his work began to gain international recognition, Andrew started to explore new creative territory, integrating multimedia practice with the investigation of themes such as sexuality, gender politics, football, popular culture, migration, religion and spirituality. He is the winner of the 2011 Musee du Quai Branly Artistic creation prize. A visual storyteller, Andrew Esiebo captures scenes from everyday life in the urban landscape, exploring how personal narratives interact with wider social issues

  • Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko

After spending most of her childhood in Germany, a trip back to Nigeria inspired Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko’s fascination with traditional Yoruba culture. Since returning to live and work in Lagos as an adult, her photographs reflect the mythology and storytelling tradition of the Yoruba people. Captivated by the word ‘Itan’ which means ‘story’ in Yoruba, Ayeni-Babaeko based an entire collection around the concept, capturing female figures in mystical costumes to recreate the Nigerian deities and folk-stories in the eyes of the viewer. Women are the custodians of tradition for Ayeni-Babeko, who uses black and white photography to capture the timelessness of her goddesses

  • Lakin Ogunbanwo

Lakin Ogunbanwo’s bold and beautiful images are characterised by their striking use of colour, light and angles. The fashion photographer’s moody portraits of men and women are daring and provocative; he transforms the human body into a work of art with his defiant, and sometimes, playful gaze. He is building an international reputation for his enigmatic images that often exude an erotic and subversive undertone while bridging both fashion and portraiture.

  • Ade Adekola

Ade Adekola captures images with a particular emphasis on looking beyond what the normal eye would register. He works as a conceptual artist by exploring philosophy and visual epistemology. He uses perceptions as interplay, to trigger associative memories. He creates visual representations that go beyond what the eye can see. His ground-breaking work, Icons of a Metropolis, captures the dynamism of urban life, re-imagining figures on the street as 20 character archetypes, ‘icons’, conceived to define the spirit of survival that fuels life in Lagos.

  1. Uche Okpa-Iroha

Introspective and outward-looking, versatile and perceptive, Uche Okpa-Iroha’s gaze offers a powerful perspective on our times. His work has achieved international attention for his arresting images of humans documenting pressing social issues. His first major project, Under Bridge Life, won the Seydo Keita Award in 2009. Stepping away from the photojournalistic style that dominated his earlier work, in his most recent project, The Plantation Boy, Okpa-Iroha presents an incisive challenge to the Western gaze by inserting himself into stills and staged re-enactments from Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film, The Godfather.

  • Thompson Ekong

Thompson S. Ekong is a Nigerian photographer with a lot to say. As the Visual Director of the conglomerate Baroque Age, he is concerned with creating imagery that elevates Africa and interrogates the internet’s affect on our global consciousness. He says, “The world is more connected now due to the internet, there’s so much information which makes humanity more conscious and it’s perplexing to anyone who can’t understand this change and growth around them. It’s really peculiar in Africa, this rapid change from one generation to another.” Thompson explores humanity in his work through themes such as the unspoken issue of depression amongst young African creatives. His work also speaks to the unique experience of being born into a third world nation but being given access to the rest of the world via the web. Most of all, he is determined to show that excellence exists on the continent.

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