Spotlight LagosPhoto 2017: Eloghosa Osunde
Nigerian writer and visual artist Eloghosa Osunde’s work revolves around mental health, sexuality and the psychology of identity and interpersonal intimacies. In 2014, she was awarded the Hamill Scholarship for Creative Writing and attended an intensive workshop in Semenyih, Malaysia. The following year, Osunde graduated from the University of Nottingham, UK. She is also an alumna of the New York Film Academy where she studied screenwriting, as well as the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop. Celebrated authour Chimamanda Adichie published online, a selection of Osunde’s vignettes ‘Shapes’. Her short memoirs Don’t Let it Bury You was published in Catapult. As part of the Writivism Mentorship Program, Eloghosa Osunde worked with 2016 Caine Prize winner Lididumalingani Mqombothi on her story And Morning Will Come, which was later longlisted for the 2017 Writivism Short Story Prize. Her visual art series ‘And Now We Have Entered Broken Earth’ has been exhibited across three continents and selected for the New York Times Portfolio Review, as well as Photoville 2017. In this interview with Omenka, she talks about her exhibition at the 2017 edition of LagosPhoto and the growth of the photography industry.
Congratulations! You are one of the 36 photographers selected for this year’s edition of the LagosPhoto Festival. Can you tell us about some of the works you will be exhibiting?
All the selected works are from my series ‘And Now We Have Entered Broken Earth’, which is about inter-generational cycles and how they affect our individual identities. Using the concept of the family tree as a major influence point, the series considers the complex layers to being part of a family/a joint body, addressing sub-themes of intimacy vs loneliness, fear vs comfort, sanity vs insanity, as well as life and death.
When did you first consider yourself a professional photographer?
I don’t. Photography is a medium I’ve been working in for the past five years. But really, I’m a visual artist who works through photography as a sort of conduit, to arrive at the final form of my work.
You have achieved international recognition for your work which embraces staged and documentary photography. Please tell us about your underlying philosophy?
Before I begin a new project, I go through all the ideas in my head and then tell myself to choose the difficult one. It’s very easy to stick with ‘safe’ ideas. But I’ve found over time that when I give the difficult idea a chance, it feels more rewarding to me, and also tends to have more emotional resonance. It’s the more difficult ones that tease the right amount of truth out of me/the work, so I make it my business to centre my work there.
What do you attribute to the increasing global interest in African art, as well as the rising phenomenon of art fairs all over the world?
Visibility and volume. It’s definitely not the quality of work that has suddenly changed – because African art has always been brilliant (and overlooked, even then). But I think there’s something about the way the digital age literally melds geographical boundaries that makes it more difficult to ignore that brilliance. There’s also easier access to art now, which means more Africans creating work widely and loudly. I’m all the way here for it.
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
I don’t like giving advice to anyone, because I don’t know enough to do so. So, I’ll tell you what I tell myself: Do the work that feels true to you. You can’t go wrong with that.
August 23, 2019