Launched in 2010 and organised by the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), the LagosPhoto Festival is the first and only international art festival of photography in Nigeria. Initiated as part of an ongoing project designed to use art in public spaces, and as a medium for increasing societal awareness, LagosPhoto is held annually in a month-long programme of events featuring emerging photographers alongside their already established colleagues.

In a statement by the organisers, “The Festival aims to provide a platform for the development and education of contemporary photography in Africa by establishing mentorships and cross-cultural collaborations with local and international artists. It presents photography as it is embodied in the exploration of historical and contemporary issues, the promotion of social programmes, and the reclaiming of public spaces.”

The seventh edition of LagosPhoto themed, “Rituals and Performance: Inherent Risk” will take place from  22nd October to November 2016, with several events including exhibitions, workshops, artists’ presentations, discussions, screenings, and large-scale outdoor installations in congested public spaces around Lagos.

This year’s theme explores the role of acts of repetition that shape gender, image, identity, social agency, power and social constructs in contemporary society. Actions repeated constantly, becomes a ritual, its transference into other spaces of engagement becomes a performance. 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. Each image is the direct representation of the world, a human trace on a material surface. 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.” LagosPhoto 2016 will feature 30 photographers spanning 17 countries.

Celebrated for showcasing never before seen series, this year the festival will host the world debut of recent series including; ‘Genesis’ by Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe), ‘The Balogun Particle’ by Lorenzo Vitturi (Italy), and the complete ‘Great Expectations’ series by Jenevieve Aken (Nigeria).

Kudzanai Chiurai, Genesis II (2016)

Kudzanai Chiurai, Genesis II (2016)

Each year, as part of the LagosPhoto line up of activities, Etisalat, one of the sponsors of the festival, holds the Etisalat Photography Competition which aims to develop and nurture photographic talent in Nigeria. Etisalat provides a platform for emerging Nigerian photographers to have their work exhibited to a wide audience and also win monetary prizes which are announced at the grand opening of LagosPhoto festival. This year, the theme delves into ritualistic actions related to the daily lives and celebrations of a Nigerian and the expansiveness of the country and its peoples. The grand finale of the competition is scheduled for October 2016.

Also taking place during the festival is the LagosPhoto Summer School, offering a range of workshops focusing on different niche areas of photography. The Summer School is held for emerging photographers. LagosPhoto Summer School, in partnership with Canon Central and North Africa, offer The Canon Selphy Street Photography Workshop, a basic Street Photography workshop and The Canon Story Telling Workshop with Canon Master Gary Knight, an advanced empirical workshop that explores photography as a universal storytelling language. Participants will be provided with the right equipment to use and shown how various techniques will make a difference in their visual storytelling skills. Both workshops are a combination of theoretical and practical learning with shooting experiences that will take place in Lagos.

There will be seminars hosted by Centres of Learning for Photography in Africa Network (CLPA), aimed at contributing to the professionalisation of photography on the African continent by forming a strong educational resource network. Among the participants at the 2016 CLPA network conference, which runs alongside the inaugural week of LagosPhoto Festival, are the independent curators and visual artists Akinbode Akinbiyi and Uche Okpa-Iroha. Okpa-Iroha is also the founder of The Nlele Institute, a photography training center in Lagos.

Five photographers – Nicolas Henry (France), Jason Larkin (England), Sabelo Mlangeni (South Africa), Thom Pierce (Britain), and Julia Runge (Germany) – selected from over 900 applications from 94 countries have been awarded POPCAP ’16, the piclet.org Prize for Contemporary African Photography. The prize is aimed at photographers whose work is either produced in an African country or deals with a diaspora of an African country. POPCAP ’16 will present selected photo series by these five artists including approximately 100 works as an augmented reality exhibition at Freedom Park during the Festival. The presentation will take place in a public space, as a means to reach not only the art-conscious but rather confront the general public with the image of Africa.

As part of celebrations of Hennessy’s love for music through their Hennessy Artistry initiative, the lifestyle brand will celebrate famed American Hip Hop photographer Jonathan Mannion this month. Known as one of the pioneering photographers in Hip Hop culture, Mannion has built a catalogue lasting two decades. The hip-hop legend in collaboration with Hennessy Artistry will be in Lagos to showcase some of his iconic work as well as socialise with homegrown photographers. This first of its kind is another initiative of Hennessy Artistry as the lifestyle brand seeks to continually express its appreciation of music creatively. In this case, Hip Hop and Visual Art will come together in a  collaboration made possible by Hennessy and LagosPhoto. Jonathan Mannion will participate in several engagements during the LagosPhoto Festival month. He is also set to hold workshops and open talks around his art and experiences.

The performance, ‘I Trust You Know Oju-Ile (Alaraagbo XI)‘ by Jelili Atiku, which will appropriate processional ritual and body ontology, will take place in public spaces such as beach side and streets in Victoria Island, Lagos. It will involve a spectacle of an imposing of seemingly alien-human-image, which will have a costume made of drift twigs as headgear and a long flowing crystal plastic sheeting as a garment. The figure will walk majestically carrying a calabash filled with earth and a small plant, making series of ritualistic actions. The performance will last for about three hours and it will be documented in both still and motion photography.

‘Who Knows Tomorrow’, a series by Ghanaian photographer, Nii Obodai in collaboration with French-Algerian photographer, Bruno Boudjelal will also be exhibited at LagosPhoto 2016. The works were produced over a period of two years as the photographers travelled through Ghana discussing the meaning of independence and the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s vision. The photographs are a poetic response to the dialogue and experiences gained during the trips.

Another performance to look out for is ‘The Igbo Communion’ by Alfie Nze, which uses the presence of archetypes (statues and masks) and actors to bring to the viewer a work that goes beyond the everyday aspect of popular culture. It is an invitation to take a deeper look and find meaning in one’s environment.

Key Dates:

Saturday, October 22nd: LagosPhoto Grand Opening night featuring Jelili Atiku’s Special Performance, Escalator Exhibition Hall, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos

Friday, October 28th: Annual LagosPhoto Gala

October 24th – October 31st: Professional Week; A comprehensive program of receptions, discussions, presentations, and workshops (various locations).

Satellite exhibition venues in arts and cultural spaces throughout the city extend to Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA Lagos), African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), A Whitespace Creative Agency, Red Door Gallery, Omenka Gallery and Goethe Institut. Outdoor exhibition in public spaces include, Muri Okunola Park, Falomo Roundabout, Freedom Park, Dolphin Park (Ikoyi), Beko Ransome Kuti Park (Anthony), Awoj0bi Park (Onike), and MKO Abiola Park (Ikeja).

For more information: http://www.lagosphotofestival.com/festival-information

For a list of all exhibiting photographers at the festival: http://www.lagosphotofestival.com/exhibitors

Top and featured image: Jelili Atiku, I Trust You Know Óju Ilé (Alaraagbo XI)