Staging Reality, Documenting Fiction was the theme of LagosPhoto international exhibition which took place between October and November last year. There were over 100 photography works displayed at the special opening at Eko Hotel, all exploring the complex social and political issues that define Africa in the 21st Century.

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Joseph Gergel, curator at LagosPhoto and African Artists foundation, explains ‘staging reality, documenting fiction’ as an important exhibition complementing other perspectives  documenting Africa through photography.

The exhibition presented works by 40 photographers from Africa and other countries with focus on issues peculiar to Africa; economic, social, political and religious issues. Some of the artists who participated are Ade Adekola (Nigeria), Cristina de Middel (Spain), Delphine Fawundu (Sierra Leone), Abraham Oghobase (Nigeria), Aisha Augie Kuta (Nigeria), Mary Sibande (South Africa), Hans Wilshut (The Netherlands), Viviane Sassen (The Netherlands), Jide Odukoya (Nigeria), Nicolas Henry (France), Laurence Aergeter (France), Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco) and some other artists who are from Nigeria, France, USA, UK, South Africa, Cameroon, The Netherlands, and Italy.

The photographers used art forms known as staged narratives, like Cristina De Middel’s “What Hatred did to me” which is an enactment and her interpretation of a scene in Amos Tutuola’s “Palm Wine Drunkard” during her work at Makoko in Lagos. Some other artists used genres like appropriation, performance, still life and self – portraiture. An example of a striking self portraiture at the exhibition was ‘Medicine Man’ by Riika Kassinen and Karl Ohiri with Karl Ohiri as the medicine man wearing the left over drugs of a dead cancer patient woven together as a neck piece.

Most of the works covered interesting subjects and images that kept visitors looking at them for understanding beyond the words written on the description and title tags to connect to the minds of the artists. Mary Sibande’s “Long Live the Dead Queen” and others in that series of work were as electrifying as the stories behind all 8 images demonstrating the past roles of black women (particularly her mother and grandmother) at some point in the history of South Africa along with features that mimic the English dressing of women they served. Other images captured the consequences of war on a people, fashion, feminism and freedom, the new Lagos lifestyle and rising culture of lavish weddings in Africa throw the lens of Jide Odukoya and Nigerian punishments by Seun Akisanmi, a documentation of various punishments encountered by mostly the older generations in Nigeria.

The exhibition opening on both days scheduled for private preview and public opening was well attended by local and international visitors.

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