11 November 2012

Nigeria: Echoes of a Festival

An annual photography festival concludes its third edition to the acclaim of the local aficionados. Olufunke Adepuji reports.

LagosPhoto stomped into its third edition with so much promise last month. The photography festival upped the ante by brandishing the internationally-renowned photographer Stanley Greene as its artistic director. There was, of course, its glitzy official opening at the Eko Hotel and Suites' Escalator Entrance.

With its theme "Seven Days in the Life of Lagos", the festival has so far turned out to be an exciting visual feast of photographs Lagos. "Lagos is the creative and business hub of Nigeria, arguably even [of] Africa, an urban mega-polis with a high population density," crows the festival's official catalogue. "The rate of change in the city is also rapidly evolving with improvements struggling to keep pace with the restlessness and innovation of the people. Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh fastest growing city in the world."

Among the host venues for the festival's exhibitions are the African Artists Foundation's premises along Raymond Njoku Street in the southwest Ikoyi neighbourhood of Lagos, the White Space (which is two blocks away along the same street), Omenka Gallery in Ikoyi, Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, the Falomo Roundabout in Ikoyi and the University of Lagos. This year, the Federal Printing Press and the Kalakuta Museum have been added.

The LagosPhoto official exhibition, which derives its title from the theme, opened on October 13 at the Eko Hotel and Suites Escalator Entrance and will run until November 11. The exhibition, according to the catalogue, "captures the energy and vibrancy that the city of Lagos a unique cultural environment."

In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, an exhibition featuring photographs, words and graphic novels held from October 13 to 17 at the Federal Government Press in Lagos Island. It was based on the renowned war photographer Wolf Boewig's report on West African civil wars. Boewig had collaborated with the novelist Carlos Mendes in the publication of several articles. Fifteen international graphic storytelling artists had joined the project, tagged Black. Light Project by merging writings and photographs with drawings to narrate stories of life and survival during some specific wars in West Africa.

Other exhibitions held so far under the auspices of the festival were Makoko Now (held at the AAF from October 13 to November 10), Nigerian Nostalgia Project and an exhibition of the Swedish documentary and commercial photographer, I Was Welcome (held at the White Space from October 13 to 26), Fela and After (held at the Nimbus Art Gallery, Bogobiri House, along Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road in Ikoyi from October 13 to 26) and Lagos Enlarged (photographs by international photographers, exhibited at the Omenka Gallery in Ikoyi from October 13 to 26). There were in addition to these shows outdoor exhibitions held at different parks and public spaces in Lagos.

Spiced with workshops, roundtables and presentations, the festival featured a film titled Relentless on October 27. The film, which starred Nneka, tells the story of Obi, a peace-keeping soldier in the war-torn Sierra Leone. The protagonist meets Blessing (a Sierra Leonean woman) whose mutilation by rebels left him devastated and scarred. His experiences continue to haunt him even on his return to Lagos, where he opens a small security outfit with his best friend and fellow war veteran, Ola.

The festival's official exhibition, Seven Days in the Life of Lagos, held at Eko Hotels and Suites meanwhile ends today.

LagosPhoto enjoys the sponsorship of the telecommunications company Etisalat as well as Eko Hotel and Suites and Art Collaboratory.

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