Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Art Photography Residency Programme Week One

On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise

Art Photography Residency Programme Week One

The first week of CCA,Lagos’ international art photography residency On Independence and The Ambivalence of Programme was kick started by American artist Carrie Schneider with an intellectually and artistically challenging programme of discussions, readings, artists’ presentation - both of their work and artists who inspire them. The twelve participants come from a variety of backgrounds – sculpture, graphic design, painting, photography, performance art and even engineering – with varying skill levels.

We changed the name from Workshop – which usually in this context places more if not all the emphasis on practice – to Residency which allows perspectives on critical thinking and a research orientated activities, a complementary even indispensable aspect of artistic practice. In many countries on the continent, the art school infrastructure is inadequate and where it does exists few institutions of higher learning, even the informal organizations have embraced the immense changes that have taken place over the past half century in contemporary visual art. For artists to develop their practice, one of the most prevalent avenues for growth involves going abroad or attending the numerous workshops organised on the continent. Whilst the traditional workshop contributions have been invaluable it is obvious that without a radical change in the format and structure, they too risk being overtaken by rapid changes, resulting in artistic stagnation.

Within the week the participants produced three bodies of work that explored the technical and conceptual possibilities of photography and brought up issues of representation, truth, fiction and identity. The week was rounded off with a superb and insightful talk on History, Culture and Photograhy in Nigeria by veteran photographer Tam Fiofori. His talk focused on the little known late 19th century photography A. J. Green believed to have been European but who was actually a Nigerian. Fiofori gave a sweeping but insightful account of Nigerian photography from the late 1800s to the present generation of collectives such as Depth of Field and Black Box.

Below are some Artists Perspective on the first week:


The first week’s residency expanded my scope of horizon. For the first time, I was able to see the link between the artist and the artwork. I also learnt to look at and read photographs in a critical manner and realized that there’s more to a photograph than it just being a picture.


I always knew I had a good camera but I never really understood how it worked. The residency has helped me improve on the technical side of photography as I not only learnt how to read the light but also got to understand the meaning and functions of terminology associated with photography such as Depth of Field, Wide Angle and Aperture.

“I feel like I‘ve moved from kpa kpa kpa (in local parlance means point and shoot) to professional photography.

Chidinma NNOROM (Nig)

The one-on-one discussions on different ways of practice were quite enlightening as they enabled me to understand how the artists thought out and structured their work. The residency has also enabled me to understand the critical thinking that is process driven and also enhanced my technical skills.


The slow build up of the residency enabled us to understand the structure. It was quite interesting that the approach was more formal with a lot of emphasis on research and presentations as opposed to “just going out to take photographs.”

There is also enough space and equipment creating the right atmosphere for experimentation.

It has been a mind-blowing experience and now I just want to construct stuff.”

Sabelo MHLANGENI (S.Africa)

It has been good sharing experiences on the ups and downs of being a photographer from different backgrounds.

The “5 minute favorite artist” presentation by each artist also exposed me to very interesting artists some of whom I had never heard of before.

Landry MBASSY (Cameroon)

The whole workshop structure emphasizing the process and critical thinking…..

Work in Progress


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