For nine days beginning on March 22, three photographers, Nigeria’s Blaize Itodo, Dutch Irène Becker and Norwegian Rey Byhre showcased their works at Kulture Kode Hub, Abuja.
At the event tagged ‘Photo Catalysis’ pictures of everyday Nigerians, struggles and surviving wars, and cultures among others, were on display
A new dimension
Becker’s 10 works portrayed familiar items a different light that made them more appreciable and beautiful. Showing the resilience of Nigerians and their innovative skills was her black and white photo of people playing table tennis on a plank surface. The plank was balanced on an old paint bucket with two stones and a piece of stick serving the same purpose as a net would have.
Peppers, grains and other food items being dried by roadsides is common sight and usually go unnoticed. But Becker’s lenses brought them to life, with the effect of a well-tapestried piece of rug that left guests standing before the image, gapping and taking in the green and red beauty captured from an elevated angle. It was impossible to associate the chili peppers with anything that could cause discomfort.
Her ‘Landforms’ from Kaduna’s Ungwan Sarki, is a picture of an erosion-ridden landscape. It momentarily made one forget the looming danger the surrounding communities were exposed to with such a landscape.
The eyes speak
A powerful feature which stood out in Byhre’s 16 works were the eyes of the subjects in his images, whether they were looking directly at the camera, away from it or behind dark glasses.
They spoke several thousand words of joy, sadness, despair and excitement, so loud it was deafening and bore through one’s imagination as to what the circumstances were when they were captured.
The narratives of the war images from Central Africa Republic (CAR) resonated forcefully with those of images from Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis.
The picture of a boy showing off his toy gun in Bangui, CAR, was reminiscent of children who have experienced the Boko Haram crisis and how for many of them, the unusual and unacceptable have become the norm.
Rural is cool
Itodo’s 17 works made rural life so enviable, as their beauty belied the hardships a lot of the personas in the images are bedeviled with.
His composition of what one would call ‘The T Bridge’ was a portion of a bridge captured at a ‘T’ angle just as a lone man walked across it. The carton-coloured concrete form contrasting against the formless grey clouds which served as the perfect backdrop, was something to behold.
It was the most difficult of the exhibited pieces for the artist to capture. He said, “I saw the man approaching the bridge and went down to the foot, to be stationed at exactly the point I wanted to shoot from. I waited 10 minutes before he finally passed.”
Pastoral life was so calm and beautiful in his image of a herd of near spotless white cattle grazing as women threshed grains an arm’s length away.
Another of his many compelling images was of the innocence of children riding on loaded camel backs, heading to market.
Itodo explained that the idea behind holding the exhibition was to promote the photography art in Abuja. Photo Catalysis was a step in the conversation with professionals and amateurs around photography and for them to show their works and have talks centred on them.
According to him, “Photography in Abuja is not yet practiced as a community as it is in Lagos and some other places. Here, we are still basically individuals in the art. We need to advance the cause of photography and begin interventions in things happening in the country as we also engage the authorities with our works.”
There are plans to have more exhibitions like this quarterly.