The Best of LagosPhoto

In the 10 years since its inception, “LagosPhoto Festival” has grown a strong reputation as one of the key contemporary art events on the African continent.  This abridged catalog covers the best of the festival from inception till date (2010-2020). 

Jambo (2012) by Cristina de MiddelOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

10 Years of photography

Launched in 2010, LagosPhoto is the first international arts festival of photography in Nigeria. In a month-long series of events, the festival include exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, discussions, and large scale outdoor prints, displayed throughout the city with the aim of reclaiming public spaces and engaging the general public with multifaceted stories of Africa. LagosPhoto aims to establish a community for contemporary photography which will unite local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across all of Africa. LagosPhoto presents and educates it's global  audiences about how photography  is used as a tool to explore historical and contemporary issues, share cultural practices, and promote  social programmes.

Sartist Sport (2015) by Andile BukaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The fastest growing medium of creative expression in Africa today is photography. From blurry shots of family and friends taken with cell phones to the nuanced images from professionals. Photography tells us stories that, if well done, can lodge themselves in our minds and change the way we look at the world. LagosPhoto is confident enough about the power of photography not to focus on sensationalism. Instead, it is about encouraging people to tell stories.

"Those everyday ordinary stories that accumulate and remind us as we so often need to be reminded of our common humanity" Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Real Beauty: Babalwa (2009) by Jodie BieberOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2011: What's Next Africa? The Hidden Stories.

For LagosPhoto 2011 it was our aim to show where the African continent is going with all its problems, challenges, variety, beauty, and ideas. LagosPhoto 2011 was curated by Marc Prust.

Youthful Useful (2011) by Aderemi AdegbiteOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

White Frame (2012) by Akintunde AkinleyeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2012: Seven Days in the Life of Lagos.

Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, the second fastest growing city in Africa, and the seventh fastest growing city in the world. A city of extremes and contradictions, Lagos transforms with the fast pace of urban migration and the explosion of development and technology that is dissolving barriers and leading to new types of interactions. LagosPhoto 2012 aimed to document the city of Lagos from a comprehensive and nuanced perspective, one that reveals the big picture by focusing on the minute details of social life. This edition of LagosPhoto was curated by Joseph Gergel and Medina Dugger

Kuramu (2012) by George OsodiOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Photographers focused on various topics documenting the city of Lagos from a comprehensive and nuanced perspective.One that reveals the bigger picture by focusing on the minute details of social life.

Telebi (2013) by Mouhamadou SowOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2013: The Mega city and the Non-City

Curated by Joseph Gergel, The Mega city and the Non-City explores how the development of urban centres in Africa and the technical advancement of photography have transformed our sense of place in a globally connected world. Urban development, population explosion, environmental changes, socio-economic gaps, and the rising middle class in metropolitan centres in Africa redefine the structure of the city as it continuously evolves.

C-Stunners (2013) by Cyrus KabiruOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The artists presented in The Megacity and the Non-City adopt photographic practices and image-based strategies to negotiate the expanding urban landscape of Africa today,

Untitled I (2014) by Namsa LeubaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2014: Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction.

Curated by Azu Nwagbogu, Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction, examines contemporary photographers working in Africa and how their practices negotiate the boundaries and relationships between photography, beliefs, and truths. These artists produced pieces that torchlight the complex social and political concerns that define a new Africa in the twenty-first century, and they explore how the ubiquity of images plays a vital role in how reality is constructed and articulated. Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction considers how these artists imagine different futures and charter fictive worlds, using photography as a catalyst to investigate the changing realities of Africa today.

Long live the dead Queen (2014) by Mary SibandeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

I am Wale, Respect Me II (2014) by Patrick WillocqOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Unomgcana (2015) by Nobukho NqabaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2015: Designing Futures

Curated by Cristina De Middel, Designing Futures positions the relationships between African design. Designing Futures highlights crucial aspects of ‘making’ that come into play in African signs and design dialogues. The making of image, identity, desire, ecology, and even culture are explored through advertising, textiles, portraiture, factual and conceptual photography. These offer tangible and esoteric backdrops to how we process, navigate and inhabit the realms of a future Africa. These images create a dialogue about appropriation, identity and beauty.

Nigerian Identity (2015) by Ima MfonOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Blow Up (2013) by Omar Victor Diop & Antonie TempeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Breakfast at Tiffany's (2015) by Omar Victor Diop & Antoine TempéOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Emmanuel (2016) by TY BelloOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2016: Inherent Risk: Rituals and Performance

Curated by Cristina De Middel and Maria Pia Bernardoni, Inherent Risk: Rituals and Performance explores the role of acts of repetition that shape gender, image, identity, social agency, power and social constructs in contemporary society. Actions repeated constantly, become a ritual, its transference into other spaces of engagement becomes a performance. Each image is the direct representation of the world, a human trace on a material surface.  

Genesis II (2016) by Kudzanai ChiuraiOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The photograph turns into a cognitive instrument of reality because a photograph is not just an image; is also a record, a document, a message and a construction. The preceding choice of each action contains an inherent risk."

In a statement discussing the theme, the curator says, "Changing the shutter, adjusting the lens, capturing the moment all those movements can be considered as the rituals of photographers but beyond these obvious acts and interpretation, we wish to explore further.

Self Portrait Man (2016) by Kiluanji Kia HendaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

A Dream in Green (2016) by Juno CalypsoOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Black Pope by Samuel FossoOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2017: Regimes of Truth

Under the curatorship of the renowned fashion designer Duro Olowu, Regimes of Truth explores the various tensions between faith, reality and belief through smokescreens with ambivalence. This is represented in a dynamic intersection of photographic encounters featuring the most recent creative output and world premier of the work by renowned award-winning artist, Samuel Fosso, whose new series“Black Pope’ delves into the politics of religion in Africa and confronts its image dissimulations. 

Black Pope by Samuel FossoOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

We rotate from one belief system to another; from religion to science with Where Will We Go?

Unknown Soldier (series) by Christina de MiddelOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

There are two major historical events that continue to define the global visual representation of Africa and both historic events happened here in Nigeria: the Nigeria Civil War, with the declaration of the Nation state of Biafra and the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture also known as FESTAC 77

Chromatin (series) (2017) by Medina Dugger and Francois BeaurainOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The latter’s attempt to redress the damage done to the image and representation of Africa in the media clearly did not attain its full potential and LagosPhoto will explore the legacy of FESTAC and the Nigeria Civil War.

So Long a Letter (2016) by Sethembile MsezaneOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2018: Time has Gone

This theme and conversation of interest is intended to explore contemporary dialogues surrounding different facets of time. Artists from around the globe have been invited to discuss, confront and wrestle with this idea of urgency. 

No Victor, No Vanquished i by Chibuike UzomaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Each in their own way, they investigate the practices of archiving, preservation, imagining the possibility of an Afro-based future, putting an end to a ‘‘time that is up’’ or the never-ending desire to reinterpret a past, laden with both nostalgia and/or hidden phantoms.

Searching for Africa in LIFE (1996) by Alfredo JaarOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Looking at time both from a macro lens and with West African goggles, the curatorial team sheds
light on the long way to go, from the then to the now, investigating diverse configurations of time in the least linear way possible.

No Victor, No Vanquished iii by Chibuike UzomaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Beyond the Border - My Identity by Maïmouna GuerresiOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2019: Passports

In the digital world, globalization appears egalitarian and desirable, however once being a cosmopolitan becomes physical, the inequity of possessing a privileged or non-privileged passport becomes evident. Traveling the world freely, without being a subject of scrutiny or suspicion is still – and maybe more than ever – impossible for a large percentage of the world population, because the "the value" of a passport is measured by calculating its "Visa-Free Score" (VFS).

Beyond the Border - Couple by Maïmouna GuerresiOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Though globally, we often anticipate the same values, fashions, religions and encounter comparable challenges, irrespective of regions and climate zones, we still live in a narrow and immobile world that prevents fluctuating lifestyles and existences outside of the digital space.

Waste Identity: Passport for Plastic (2019) by AadesokanOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

A passport entitles the holder to enter and leave a territory. The most important element, the data page, formally claims to certify our identity based on standardized categories of nationality, gender and looks. Yet the options available automatically foster stereotypes in terms of sex, race and credibility.

The Baptism of an Igbo Man (1) (2019) by Uzoma OrjiOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Through the course of a decade, the festival has proven to be a space where artists can meet on neutral ground to share ideas, innovation and capacities. Thus, the jubilee edition especially concentrates on the reciprocal energies the festival has experienced in past years and will open the discussion of how we can create a flexible and more egalitarian world within the existing global restrictions.

Baby Saggios (2019) by Adeolu OsiboduOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

What are the options of living freely in a world that will be determined by borders? LagosPhoto invites artists to consider the festival platform as a laboratory for ideas and a safe place for experimenting with open forms of identity, creating new categories of an international passport that allows for diversity.

LagosPhoto20: Open Call by African Artists FoundationOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

LagosPhoto 2020: Rapid Response Restitution

Curated by Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan, Dr Clementine Deliss, Azu Nwagbogu and Maria Pia Bernardoni.  LagosPhoto 2020 is a Home Museum project where all participants are to submit objects of virtue as a personal collection to the organisers.Organised by the African Artists Foundation (AAF), the festival will only take place online with the aim of restoring lost memories and evoking interest in our shared history.

Credits: Story

Azu Nwagbogu

Curatorial Direction
Kadara Enyeasi

Curatorial Text/Editor
Asibi C. Danjuma

With Support From
Nguveren Ahua and Hannah Oghene

Special Thanks To
Adolphus Opara, Andrew Esiebo, Viviane Sassen, Jodi Bieber, Aderemi Adegbite, Sabelo Mlangeni, Chantal Heijnen, Benedicte Kurzen, George Osodi, Akintunde Akinleye, Stanley Greene, Mouhamdou Sow, Samuel Fosso, Cyrus Kabiru, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Nicola lo Calzo, Joe Penney, Patrick Willocq, Namsa Leuba, Mary Sibande, Jenevieve Aken, Cristina De Middel, Nobukho Nqaba, Ima Mfon, Andile Buka, Omar Victor Diop, Antoine Tempe, Kadara Enyeasi, Joana Choumali, James Ostrer, TY Bello, David Uzochukwu, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Sanne de Wilde, Kudzanai Chiurai, Thierry Fontaine, Kiluanji Kia Henda and Juno Calypso


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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