LAGOS IN MONOCHROME
Oluwamuyiwa Logo works predominantly in black-and-white photography, employing both a conceptual and a documentary approach. He seeks to use the camera as a shrewd observer of the human carnival by capturing people, things and stories from perspectives that are often overlooked, ignored or taken for granted. Logo’s most recent series ‘Monochrome Lagos’ is a unique reflection of his home city, as well as an exposé of its idiosyncrasies and aesthetics. He has participated in significant exhibitions including Perspectives from Within (2016), School of Arts in San Francisco, Lagos: Hustle & Hope (2015), and Lagos: Young Contemporaries (2016) both at the Rele Gallery.
On your website, you describe Lagos as being a sensory overload. Is this directly or in any way related to your choice to exhibit the city via monochrome?
Yes, that overwhelming movement of activities coupled with a bright harsh sun creates a high contrast of colour, which I find very beautiful someday – but the popular consensus is that it is chaotic and that is hard to argue against because it is obvious. Showing a different side to that already familiar visual aesthetic, is the premise behind shooting Lagos in black-and-white. To calm the ‘visual noise’’, I find interesting compositions by focusing on other features that pop in such a limited palette.
You have also described your work as “seeking the abstract elements of realistic subjects”. Can you simplify this as best?
It is a way of seeing things differently through consciously avoiding the frontal documentary style of storytelling by re imagining inanimate objects as living occupiers of the space as well as by isolating body parts and subjects theatrically against their background. Most importantly, we live on a peculiar continent with loads of distorted stereotypes – thanks to photography.
My mandate with my photography work would be to tell the story from my own perspective and hopefully hone a paradigm shift in how the subjects I photograph are perceived by seeking beauty, but not in denial but by calling the ‘spade – a –beautiful – spade’ visually and contextually.
“Form, patterns, lines.” How often do these qualities converge/diverge in your work?
They are the basic pointers that I use in my photos, which have overtime become a pseudo moodboard/ground rule that I mix other art directions with. It’s exciting to have that perspective, share it and make other people see and appreciate it for the experience and also for its relevance ideologically.
What is the most striking metaphor for Lagos you have both encountered?
To be honest – I don’t know yet – as the city tends to assume a different form every time I think I have an idea of how it truly ticks.
Like most urban cities, I think that formlessness adds to the allure and mystique. Some days she’s like a city stuck in the 80’s ideology and other days she bubbles with energy as if she’s about to shed skin in 24 hours to become the megalopolis we romanticize her.
Photography is often more accessible than painting, when applying context. With this project how are you able to translate context across the images?
As the title of the series implies, ‘Call & Response’ sums up the essential action of the art/artist – which is to find inspiration and react through expression, That’s what we achieved individually and mutually across contrasting media. Also worth mentioning will be the similarities in our creative process, which involved me stripping colour off my images and Richard Ketley simplifying imagery and forms with unpredictable movements till they assumes a life of their own. That oscillatory association between the two media and two individuals opens up so many layers of dialogue and context, thus guaranteeing an audience a richer experience through the works.
In your collaboration, what elements did each borrow from the other?
Possibilities of what an image could become; it’s a major feedback beyond comments and applause, as my work is always about curiosity than an ‘affirmed’ opinion. It is fulfilling to see the other forms it can grow into, especially seeing how Richard responds with elements (colour) that were removed; that makes it an awesome 360-degree experience.