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Highlighting issues of documentation, preservation via photography

By Prisca SamDuru

THE need to explore the configurations by which the past, the present and the future interact within the photographic medium, was at the core of the 9th edition of the LagosPhoto Festival.

Organised by the African Artists’ Foundation, AAF, LagosPhoto prides itself as the first international arts festival of photography in Nigeria.

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The festival opened to the public at a grand event held on October 27th, 2018 at the Federal Printing Press Building on Lagos Island, Lagos.

Works are also on display at satellite exhibition venues in arts and cultural spaces accross the city. The venues include; Omenka Gallery, African Artists’ Foundation, Gallery 16/16, Alliance Francaise, h.Factor and Railway (Yaba). Outdoor exhibitions in public spaces in Lagos included Ikorodu Park, Falomo Roundabout (Ikoyi) and Freedom Park.

Themed ‘Time Has Gone’, the festival is curated by   Eva Barois De Caevel, Wunika Mukan, Charlotte Langhorst and Valentine Umansky who are investigating the diversity that time encompasses. Their curatorial discourse unearths the non-linearity of time and the complexity of our experience to memory.

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The US Mission in Nigeria, one of the sponsors of the festival, featured ‘Naija Gems’, a travelling photography exhibition initiated by the US Ambassador, W. Stuart Symington, as one of the 42 works showcased during the festival.   ‘Naija Gems’ tells the positive stories of Nigeria in pictures, highlighting the country’s natural beauty.

The US Public Affairs Officer, PAO, Russell Brooks in a soft opening of the LagosPhoto Festival   which took place earlier at the AAF headquarters in Lagos,   prior to throwing the festival open to the public,   highlighted the US Mission’s support for creative artistic expression and key cultural institutions in Nigeria.

Brooks noted that the need to work with local partners to show the world that there’s a lot of beauty in Nigeria, informed its support. Naija Gems being a part of the festival he said, would help change the country’s narratives positively.

The month-long festival ending on November 15,   2018,   features 22 photographers from over 18 countries.

It also features exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, discussions and screening as well as large scale outdoor installations in congested public spaces in Lagos.

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During the festival, ‘Time’ was approached from different angles, highlighting matters of momentum, documentation and preservation, taking into consideration the intimacy of stories as well as the breadth of the concept itself.”

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 2018 theme had the participating   artists, investigating the practices of archiving, preservation, imagining the possibility of an Afro-based future, putting an end to a “time that is up” or the never-ending desire to reinterpret a past, laden with both nostalgia/or hidden phantoms.

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