16 July 2017

Nigeria: Photo Exhibition Documents Artist's Near Death Experience

Artist, Adeola Olagunju holds a photo exhibition documenting her near death experience, using self-portraiture and re-staging of the actual events, including the traditional Yoruba healing rituals used to resuscitate her. The exhibition is tagged 'Redemption' and it runs from Friday, July 7, 2017 to Sunday, July 23, 2017 in Lagos.

The two-series photo exhibition, "Navigating a dark space" and "Home is" document the traumatizing journey of the entire experience from the point of vulnerability to recovery. The artist captures both the psychological and physical process of recovery.

"Navigating a Dark Space" is a set of black and white photographs, which visualizes the period when the artist was diagnosed with a health condition which led to surgery. After the surgery, the artist was voiceless and sickly. The medical team gave up on her and thus her family opted for traditional medication. In this series of photographs, Adeola also portrayed the Yoruba spiritual procession called 'Irapada', which is conducted for very sick people.

Photography became a part of Adeola's recovery process. It served as a distraction from the ongoing turbulence, giving her hope of life. The first pictures were taken by her family members who thought it wise to keep a record of her recovery. Eventually, the artist got better and she started taking the pictures herself, using her family and friends as muses to recreate the process of healing.

Adeola grew stronger and so did her passion for photography. She started to re-stage her fears, feelings and pain, using other means and objects. She delved into her memory to portray her deepest fears and weakness during that period in her life. She says, "I began to stage from my memory what I had been through as a means to release my unconscious fears and heal my mind."

Two years after, "Home is", a set of coloured photographs, records the artist's new state of mind and health, including her experiences in a foreign land. The photographs were created during the artist's residency in Dusseldorf, Germany. In Home is, Adeola places the German culture- rituals, carnivals and so on, in contrast to the Yoruba culture- including 'Irapada'. Adeola does well to mix little excerpts of tradition, realism and the underworld.

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