Thursday, 25 February 2010

Taking Stock of Week Two...

“…photography is no longer a ‘mortal enemy’ or a ‘humble servant’ to art. It is currently enjoying significant re-evaluation in terms of its profile, acceptance and status…these developments mirror its exciting advances and shifts as a medium…”- Susan Bright (Art Photography Now, 2005) London: Thames & Hudson Ltd

The trends of events that have been fleeting past in the previous days until this moment have been breathtaking, energetic and downright exciting. There were insightful paper readings, intelligent and informative presentations by the international guest artists and speakers.

We were all nostalgic and introspective when Heta Kuchka pulled us all into a whirling soul-searching rollercoaster ride into her world of photography and videos. She shared intimate fragments of her past; her fantasies, insecurities and fears, and made us confront and grapple with a universal fear that we all cringe from—the diverse nuances associated with the grim reality of death.

Mats Stjernstedt made us sit on the edge of our seats with the aspect of photography that many of us in this part of our world ignore and maybe, take for granted: Documentary Photography. I was personally inspired by the way he projected what I would have initially overlooked as mundane and boring in a very vibrant and brilliant way.

Miriam Backstrom’s silent pictures still scream out the history we have to recover, the memories we can find and the possibilities we can discover and create even in the most empty and void places in our respective worlds. Her lectures were also intriguing and gave us all relevant insights on the principles associated with and involved in taking creative pictures.

But I daresay that the Nigerian photography veteran, Tam Fiofori’s, talk “History, Culture and Photography in Nigeriawas the unforgettable highlight of the week. His reading stoked the tensed but dying embers of the prevalent issue of Nigeria’s dilemma of losing her past in the bid to compromise with a future that conforms with the norms of the global community and subtly imperious western influences, flaring up a vibrant but important discussion on a historical heritage that this present generation seemed to have altogether ignored or taken for granted, a past fraught with the uncelebrated yet significant pioneering efforts of photographers like J.A. Green and few others like himself.

The discussion also revealed the challenges photographers face, including the preclusions and prejudices they sometimes struggle with in a country that is slowly stirring up to embrace the significance of their contribution due to the aura of suspicion as well as the survivalist and materialistic mindset and suspicion enshrouding a people still haunted by the turbulent stages in our nation’s democratic journey. Interestingly, this dialogue foreshadowed certain experiences we encountered during our outdoor photography session.

William West.


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