Lagos in the past four years has thrived on the energy of Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. In presenting a recap of the people, places and lifestyle, certain images would be expected as part of the new city. Images of our increasing malls and cinemas, lavish Lagos wedding scenario or any owanbe party people, the dynamic street fashion of youngsters, constructions in progress, the beautification landscape project like Ndubisi Kanu Park at Alausa, the new Oshodi park, the toll gates in lekki and other socio- economic related subjects.
‘Lagos: Hustle and Hope’ according to Rele promises “the dynamic nature of the city-state Lagos and the hustle that characterizes its aspirational residents and their hope for a better future. It reflect the last four years – over which these works were created – and a futuristic look into the coming four years.”
The exhibition however captured old and new iconic structures and places like the Civic Centre, National Theatre, Abeokuta Street at Ebute Meta and Lekki – Ikoyi link bridge. The subjects are not entirely new or as upbeat as one would expect but they are works between 2010-2015 which the exhibition covers with less futuristic images.
One of the artists Ayodele Ukana who presented Lagos in a different medium from photography focused on traditional festive subjects as seen in his works “Bata” and “Eyo” . One notable thing is the medium of his art – metal foil, which distinctly stands out in a room full of photography art.
Bayo Omoboriowo, Kayode Adegbola, Lukman Olaonipekun and Logo Oluwamuyiwa Adeyemi whose works dominates the exhibition covered more people and familiar places across mainland and Island. These are beautiful aerial shots of Ikoyi and Lagos Island around the the Makoko wood market. One of the images I find outstanding is a scene from Bar Beach, by Logo Adeyemi. It felt nostalgic standing there looking at Bar Beach in 2013. A place no longer in existence thanks to our futuristic Eko Atlantic project. No complains, Lagos need to grow and expand in space, it’s part of the sacrifice for a mega city. While experiencing that moment in time at Bar Beach, lovers of Afro beat and Fela’s generation are transported to the new Afrika Shrine in a retrospective black and white photo taken in 2014. It has a deliberate imperfection with light exposure and a feel of something done in the 80s or 90s.
Lagos people represented in this exhibition are somewhat the stereopyed how the west see us images. Mainly the everyday lower class crowd but another Logo Adeyemi’s photograph of young guys on a street in Ebute Meta is apt to feature a guy on roller skates which has become a common sight around mainland central. While Lukman Olaonipekun’s To let immediately identifies an unresolved nagging problem in our transforming city; inadequate housing infrastructure and unemployment affecting more than 75% of the population.
Lagos has countless stories that cannot be told in one exhibition. Adebola Rayo, curator of Lagos Hustle and Hope therefore must have decided to focus on recognizable stories across Lagos. She and her team also made some of these works into affordable colourful tee shirts, souvenir mugs, tote bags and postcards you can take home with you. It’s such an ideal way to encourage visitors to take art into their personal space. There is also the Polling booth “What do you love about Lagos” with interesting short opinions to make you laugh left behind by other visitors.
Lagos Hustle and Hope is on till April 15th and Rele is always ready to welcome you into their warm relaxing space.