Leading Nigerian Photographers in Diaspora
Today, many Nigerian photographers live and work outside Africa, where they contribute to the growing discourse and global attention to art from the continent. Their many successes are hinged on their ability to remain true to their roots, reflecting not only the realities of the continent, but also documenting their journeys as they negotiate their spaces in their new environments. Presented below is a carefully curated list, in no particular order of the most successful.
Iké Udé (b.1964)
Alongside running an active photography practice, Iké Udé is an author, publisher and style icon. He is successful in imbuing conceptual aspects of performance and representation with a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art. Iké Udé’s recent work ‘Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty’, is a series of colourful and elegant portraits of high-profile members of the film industry including screen icons Genevieve Nnaji and Richard Mofe-Damijo, as well as maverick filmmaker Kunle Afolayan. Throughout Udé’s career, his works have been placed in the permanent collections of various prestigious institutions such as The Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Smithsonian National Museum, Washington D.C., the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln Nebraska, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut.
Andrew Dosunmu (b.1965)
Andrew Dosunmu began his career as a design assistant at iconic fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent. He has subsequently worked as a creative director and fashion photographer, whose images have appeared in a variety of leading international magazines. Dosunmu was selected to participate in the photography exhibition Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary Photography (2006) at the International Center of Photography in Miami, Florida. Besides a flourishing career in photography, Dosunmu is also active in film and television. In 2011, Dosunmu premiered his first film Restless City at the Sundance Film Festival. It was followed by Mother of George in 2013.
His award-winning documentary Hot Irons (1998) won the best documentary at FESPACO and the Reel Awards in Toronto. In South Africa, Dosunmu has directed several episodes of the widely acclaimed television series Yizo Yizo, which dramatises the policy debates around education in post-apartheid South Africa, through a frank presentation of the social crises and conflicts at a Johannesburg high school. Dosunmu has also served as creative director for album covers for artistes such as Erykah Badu and Public Enemy. He has also directed music videos for Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone, Common, Wyclef Jean, Kelis, Aaron Neville, Maxwell, Tracy Chapman and Talib Kweli.
Akinbode Akinbiyi (b.1946)
Akinbode Akinbiyi was born in Oxford, England, and has been actively practising as a photographer since the early seventies, focusing on large urban centres, especially on the African continent. Through his work, Akinbiyi has covered all aspects of megacities, from the banal everyday occurrences to the increasing profusion of high-rises. He combines his wanderings with master classes, workshops and writing. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Goethe Medal award.
He has participated in several exhibitions including Tales from a Globalising World (Egypt) Africa Remix (Japan), Geschichten von der Globalisierung (Austria), Africa Apart (Germany), The Artist and the City (Spain), Sea Never Dry (Germany) and Stadtansichten: Lagos (Germany).
Emeka Okereke (b. 1980)
Emeka Okereke holds a Bachelors and Masters degrees from the National Fine Art School of Paris. Also a writer, he discovered his passion for photography in 2001. Okereke is a member of renowned Nigerian photography collective, Depth of Field (DOF). He is also the founder and artistic director of Invisible Borders: The Trans-African Project. Okereke’s work oscillates between diverse media, including video, poetry and performative interventions in the exploration of the central theme of borders. His work also examines the questions of exchange and co-existence in the context of various social-cultural confluences. In 2003, he won the Photographer Award by the AFAA Afrique en Création at the 5th edition of the Bamako Photo Festival of Photography. He has exhibited at several biennales and art festivals in different cities of the world, including Lagos, Bamako, Cape Town, London, Berlin, Bayreuth, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Brussels, Johannesburg, New York, Washington, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Paris.
Karl Ohiri (b.1983)
Karl Ohiri’s work explores human conditions and recurring themes, including family, memory and identity. He began his visual arts practice in 2007 with the documentation of his ancestral homeland of Nigeria. Since completing his Masters at Goldsmiths in 2008, Ohiri’s output has been a mixture of conceptually driven and often documentary-based projects that consist of original works and the recontextualisation of pre-existing artifacts. They have been exhibited in a public installation at Heathrow Terminal 5 (2012), and in group shows at such prestigious venues as Tate Britain (2013), Cubitt Gallery (2015) and the National Portrait Gallery (2016). His most recent solos have been held at Omenka Gallery (2016) and the New Art Exchange (2016).
Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé (b.1983)
Since graduating as a chemical engineer in the mid-1980s, Bamgboyé has successfully sustained an independent practice spanning the fields of fine art, philosophy, cultural theory and exhibition curating. Since the 1990s, his work has explored a range of issues surrounding representation, including black masculinity, sexuality and African art. His visual installations have taken many forms, integrating video and photography, and moving between documentation and performance. An ongoing interest in technology, particularly in relation to African art, has driven his work, including his presence on the web. Bamgboyé lives and works in London, England, where he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. He has shown his work extensively, including solo shows at the Slade School of Art and Gallery One (London), Culturgest (Lisbon), and also group exhibitions like In/Sight: African Photographers 1940 to the Present, Johannesburg Biennial (1997) and the Dakar Biennial (1998).
Zaynab Toyosi Ọdúnsì (b.1975)
Award-winning Zaynab Ọdúnsì also works as a full-time lecturer at Dar Al Hekma University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She holds an MA in photography from the University of the Arts, London and is a recipient of the Mairie de Paris and Cites International des Arts- Residency (2006). In 2003, she began to document the inhabitants of Lagos. For her, the only way to give meaning to the chaos that this city seems to create, is to focus on individuals, especially those on the margins of society. Zaynab Toyosi Ọdúnsì is a member of a collective of six photographers called Depth of Field (DOF), working together on the various issues raised by the city and her surroundings. Ọdúnsì has participated in numerous workshops, and her work has been the subject of several exhibitions, notably in Berlin, London and Bamako.
Juliana Kasumu (b.1992)
Based in London, Juliana Kasumu uses conscious imagery to highlight the interconnectivity of women, culture and fashion. Her subject matter is chosen based on a quest for knowledge of issues related to Africa and her diaspora. By interweaving cultural research and stunning portraiture, she is able to express critical ideas to educate her audience. Juliana Kasumu’s work has been used to raise awareness of less spoken narratives by women of colour. A recurring theme for Kasumu is the relationship between African women and their hair. While undeniably beautiful, her work goes beyond documenting the aesthetics and unique intricacies of African hairstyles, but rather seeks to trace the political and cultural origins of these hair statements. Kasumu speaks of her drive to bring these often forgotten narratives to the forefront, and each of her projects is the result of extensive historical research.
David Uzochukwu (b. 1998)
David Uzochukwu was born in Innsbruck, Austria and lives in Brussels. He started photography at the age of 12 and today, describes himself as an entrepreneur, making an impression in Europe for the quality of his work and early self-taught path. After exploring self-portraiture, Uzochukwu discovered an interest in emotional imagery and dramatic skies, which has won him many awards including the EyeEm Photographer of the Year (2014). He also produces beautiful portraits of his subjects with strong narrative visions. David Uzochukwu’s work has been featured in major fashion magazines such as; Vogue Italia, Kwerfeldein Magazine, Five Thôt, Lost Freedom Magazine, 7Days, WatchMePivot, Rise Africa, 123 Inspiration, 121 Clicks, Boost Nu, The Portfolio, Modern- Intellect and Flawless Magazine.
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