A version of the review appeared in print on July 5, 2013, on page C23 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Go-Slow’: ‘Diaries of Personal and Collective Stagnation in Lagos’.
Read the review below (culled from the New York Times website)
‘Go-Slow’: ‘Diaries of Personal and Collective Stagnation in Lagos’
|'Merged' Charles Okereke|
Published: July 4, 2013
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Through July 31
No one views Africa more critically than Africans. And the young curator Amber Croyle acknowledges this fact in taking Fela Kuti’s satirical 1978 song “Go-Slow,” with its propulsive but not-going-anywhere rhythm, as the title for this show of 10 contemporary Nigerian photographers who capture life in their country, where high energy and tension meet.
In Lagos, the largest city, traffic halts movement for hours, as suggested by Uche Okpa-Iroha’s pictures of public buses seemingly piled up, back to back. Sidewalks are crowded too, with everyday people like those in Ade Adekola’s solarized street portraits, and walls thick with the kind of advertisements against which Abraham Oghobase photographs himself. In a series called “No Hurry,” Chriss Nwobu, founder of the Nigerian photo agency Ikollo, distills urban drive and stasis in studio still lifes: a briefcase perched on a detached car tire, dozens of slippers and shoes lined up heel to toe.
Other work touches on destructive forms of stagnation: drought resulting from global warming in Adeniyi Odeleye’s 2010 “Shifting Realities Series” and the continuing devastation of Nigeria’s oil fields in Aderemi Adegbite’s 2013 “Medicine After Death Suite.” Staged tableaus by Uche James Iroha — a founding member of the Depth of Field collective — dramatize the lingering suppressions of colonialism. Adeola Olagunju photographs herself among rusting trains and abandoned factories, relics of a revolution that hasn’t happened.
But sometimes slow means contemplative, as it does in Akintunde Akinleye’s shots of a clouded-over city, and Charles Okereke’s figures under a sunset sky. As it happens, the Lagos-based Mr. Okereke, along with Mr. Okpa-Iroha and Mr. Nwobu, is a member of the forward-looking collective Invisible Borders: Trans-African Photography Project, which travels by car across Africa, gradually creating a grand continental portrait as the present turns into the future. Its ambitious undertaking, and many others like it, are another side of the Lagos picture.