LagosPhoto Festival 2019: Passports

LagosPhoto Festival 2019: Passports

From October 27 to November 15, African Artists Foundation will present the 10th LagosPhoto Festival.

Themed Passports, it intends to delve into the constraints and prospects of the most important official document a human being holds. This edition aims to bring alive, an alternative global environment in which artists of different nationalities are invited to explore options of creating a fluid and permeable world, where nationality, gender, and historical imbalances are secondary. Through the course of a decade, the festival has proven to be a space where artists can meet on neutral ground to share ideas, innovation, and capacities. Thus, the jubilee edition especially concentrates on the reciprocal energies the festival has experienced in past years and will open the discussion of how we can create a flexible and more egalitarian world within the existing global restrictions. What are the options of living freely in a world that will be determined by borders?

Historically the passport was a document that was designed to enable individuals safe passage across foreign ports/territories it entitles the holder to enter and leave a territory. The data page within the contemporary passport reduces our identities to a single page with a single image. It formally claims to certify who we are, but humans are not reducible and our identities are constantly shifting, mixing and changing. What we are left with automatically fosters stereotypes in terms of sex, race, and credibility. Recent scientific knowledge in genetics makes a mockery of this reduction in identification. Excellence in science, sports, literature, fashion and so on further indicates the absurdity of a one-page method of identification and, indeed segregation. Within an African context, the entire idea of a national passport takes on an even more absurd and pathetic twist. The idea of African nationality—which is a complete colonial construct— fulsomely embraced by citizens to discriminate and oppress other Africans as seen in xenophobic attacks and lazy language makes one wonder if, as Africans, we have understood this recent history.

LagosPhoto invited artists to consider the festival platform as a laboratory for ideas and a safe space for experimentation with open and transformative forms of identity, creating new categories of an international identity that allows for diversity. What kind of passport could certify and authorize these overarching values? The 10th edition of LagosPhoto presents artists who are able to raise relevant questions and propose possible answers or sustainable alternatives and who believe in a versatile world that is not based on utopias but routed in the way we already live.

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