5 Nigerian Photographers Exploring Identity

Women through the lens.

African Artists' Foundation

AfterLight (series) by Margaret AgbajeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Photography in Lagos

Meet five women photographers in Lagos who are exploring the issue of identity. The photographs reflect how they observe society as it affects their work and personal lives. Four of the five highlighted artists were part of a mentorship program 'Women Through the Lens' facilitated by Lagos Photo Festival and Fast Forward: Women in Photography.

Yinka Babalola by Yinka BabalolaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

#1: Yinka Babalola

Yinka Babalola is a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Babalola uses different mediums from photography and film to graphic design to explore the entire scope of visual expression. Her love for the arts began in 2011 with teaching herself photo manipulation to create surrealistic images. In 2013 she went on to study visual arts and communication design as an academic degree. Since graduating she now works as a freelance artist. Babalola doesn’t employ a singular art-style, rather she is gently guided by themes of minimalism and surrealism to experimentally discover answers nuanced questions about what it means to be human.

Home is Where - Church by Yinka BabalolaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"This series; 'Portraits of my mother (Ongoing)' is my way of making sense of the relationship I have with my mother. Using self portraits I express the obvious bias of my perception which is constantly evolving."

Home is Where - Beach by Yinka BabalolaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"With overarching themes of minimalism, surrealism and space tying the works together, each image comes together as a visual puzzle of memories, feelings, places from my early childhood to present day, to tell the story of who my mother is to me as a consequence of where I’m from."

Home is Where - Garden by Yinka BabalolaOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"As human beings- from birth to the end of life, the family structure has been the foundation of what shapes both our worldview and ourselves. My project is a visual representation of the perception I have of my family dynamics which has been heavily influenced by immigration, most particularly the relationship with my mother."

Nengi Nelson by Nengi NelsonOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

#2: Nengi Nelson

Nengi Nelson is a Portrait and Documentary photographer born and raised in Rivers state Nigeria. She currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. Photography has been the easiest means through which she connects with individuals across different spectrums of life.

Alternate Identities - Angel (2019) by Nengi NelsonOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

As a Nigerian photographer, Nengi Nelson hopes to tell authentic stories of both individuals and communities within and beyond Nigeria highlighting joy, progression, and where necessary suffering to incite change and drive aid. With over 4 years of experience she has been able to lend her skills to different organisations and contributed to telling their stories.

Alternate Identities - Angel (2019) by Nengi NelsonOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"As humans, a lot of our experiences are governed by an innate need to self-define and understand. Gaining sound knowledge of why we exist, who we are and how we want to live our lives is a daily drive. This innate need to understand who I am was the basis for this ongoing photographic project."

Alternate Identities - Angel (2019) by Nengi NelsonOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"To better understand The alternate identities, I set out to document the lives of individuals whose identities challenged traditional norms, questioning how they identify themselves, what part of their identity is the most prominent and what factors affect their choice of identity."

Nelly Ating by Nelly AtingOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

#3: Nelly Ating

Nelly Ating is a freelance Journalist who doubles as a Photojournalist reporting from the front lines of Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria. Ating uses photography to enhance storytelling, as a genre, which has gained increasing relevance in matching figures with actual proof.

Love and Loss - Tola (2019) by Nelly AtingOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Love has been left in the hands of technology and WiFi threatening families with little resources to maintain communication and connection to their own identity. Nelly Ating explores marriage in the context of Nigerian diaspora. Her project takes a look at long distance love stories incorporating her early experience as a wedding photographer to approach this portion of work.

Love and Loss - Didi (2019) by Nelly AtingOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Capturing the brides and brides-to-be's emptiness in their personal space while discussing the impact of long distance relationships.

Love and Loss - Didi (2019) by Nelly AtingOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

The emotional anxiety of visa denials, the torture of the visa application process with its own financial burden, and still, fear of losing communication with loved ones.

Margaret Agbaje by Margaret AgbajeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

#4: Margaret Agbaje

Margaret Agbaje is a self-taught documentary photographer living in Lagos State. Her love for photography bore out of her frustrations and subsequent desire to displace the often binary portrayal of Nigeria in the media. 

AfterLight (series) by Margaret AgbajeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Through her work, she aims to show the world that Nigeria is more than just extremes, that our culture is strong and our people even stronger.

AfterLight (series) by Margaret AgbajeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

In particular, her work hones in on our heritage which is often under-appreciated. By documenting historical buildings, she aims to tell stories, stories of times past, characterised by struggles, sadness, and happiness.

AfterLight (series) by Margaret AgbajeOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Fuelled by her passion and love for Nigeria, she never wants to lose sight of why she started taking pictures. She always wants it to come back to that place of love.

Vanessa Endeley by Vanessa EndeleyOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

#5: Vanessa Endeley

Vanessa Endeley is a self-taught visual artist and documentary photographer born and raised in the city of Lagos. She is focused on addressing the social injustices faced by Nigerian women, as well as issues of education, health and insecurity in the north eastern region of Nigeria. Photography is the medium through which she expresses herself.

Mental Health in Nigeria - Abdul by Vanessa EndeleyOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

"I am passionate about my art and am greatly influenced by Nigerian cultural identity."

Mental Health in Nigeria - Umar by Vanessa EndeleyOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Credits: Story

Director:
Azu Nwagbogu

Curatorial Direction:
Philip Fagbeyiro / Adesuwa Olanrewaju-Dada

Curatorial Text/Editor:
Philip Fagbeyiro / Adesuwa Olanrewaju-Dada

Artists:
Yinka Babalola, Nengi Nelson, Nelly Ating, Margaret Agbaje, Vanessa Endeley

Sources:
http://www.lagosphotofestival.com/exhibit/women-through-the-lens
nenginelson.com
vanessaendeley.com
nellyating.com

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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