Spotlight LagosPhoto Festival 2017: Lubabetu Abubakar
Lubabetu Abubakar is a Nigerian photographer best known for her series ‘Ojoro’, a portfolio about the female menstrual circle, welcoming a girl into adulthood as she begins her journey towards embracing her femininity and graduation to womanhood. While she studied to obtain a degree in law, Abubakar began a career in photography in England. At the 2016 edition of the Lagos Fashion Week, she successfully captured rare moments behind the scenes of the event, as designers prepared to have their collections grace the runway. Her work has been featured in Vogue Italia and The FADER. In this interview with Omenka, she talks about her exhibition at this year’s edition of the LagosPhoto Festival and the growth of the African 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?
I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of something special. I will be exhibiting a selection of portraits I have taken over the last 2 years (2016/17). I’ve titled this ‘Eniyamere’, which translates to ‘what my eyes have seen’ in the Ebira dialect. The images reflect my perception of events and emotions through my subjects. It’s an on-going conversation between the subjects in the images, the audience and myself. The collection is about how I use my subjects’ faces to exaggerate or highlight how I feel and what I want to see.
When did you first consider yourself a professional photographer?
I did a fair number of photography gigs while at Durham University, where I started receiving commercial value for my images since 2012/13. However, I would say I started thinking seriously about my career as a creative in early 2016, not long after finishing the Nigerian Law School programme in Bwari, Abuja.
You have achieved international recognition for your work which embraces staged and documentary photography. Please tell us about your underlying philosophy?
I’m passionate about the power of visual communication and storytelling. The ability to use several media of technology like cameras to create/communicate is something I take very seriously. But quite simply, I just appreciate the ugly beauties of life and I’m usually desperate to be a part of the process that documents or manipulates it.
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?
The world is becoming so big and so small at the same time that there’s little excuse now for not broadening your interests in almost any field. We live in a new world, the digital era, where the Internet continues to bridge the gap between artists and their consumers.
Because the arts community is one that’s constantly hungry for refreshing content, it’s no surprise that African art is increasingly attracting global interest after being sidelined from the conversation for many years. I think the rising phenomenon of art fairs across the world is a logical reaction to the growing demand for content that is rich and honest.
I’m a big believer in the notion that Africa is the future, these are just the beginning stages of a rather exciting journey.
What in your opinion can be attributed to the growth of photography across Africa?
I’ll say accessibility and the Internet. Photography is one of the few professions that is accessible to almost anybody at any time. You just need a digital camera/phone camera, a good eye and Internet access to kick start your photography career in today’s world. Social media apps like Instagram have also played a huge role in the popularity photography has gained in recent years.
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
Stay curious. Feed your mind with beautiful things. Take social media diets often, have more control over the kind of visual information you consume daily. Be relentless in your passion to create, nurture it and stay hungry about it.
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