Usually, I would open with a disclaimer but I stopped doing that few nights ago when one of my best mates and I staggered up the poorly designed staircase that leads to my studio so that we even named it the drunk man staircase. I was about to pseudo-apologise but she said don’t worry with the disclaimers Logor, just let me (people) experience things as they are and I thought that was profound. Two significant persons in the last three years have offered the same advice in different contexts and in fact, each situation will pass as an analogy for the other.
So fantastic photos as I have found them, described as I have perceived them:
I love trinity as much as I love triangles — a moniker I am jacking aggressively from Baldesari. One of the smoothest moves that would forever keep humans locked in on religion is the symbolisms infused subconsciously into our everyday life, especially with christianity serving as visual whiplash to keep the sheep in the fold — and what is visual art without symbols?
The day I shot this, I was about six floors up at the Pearl Apartment building, which lords above Abeokuta street, Ebute metta and while I hovered, scanning like a hungry hawk I found this gem of a photo — three cars arranged right after three tyres signifying reserved spaces, all of these halved by three cables breaking the images into triangles next to beautiful textures, shades of grey and white. Equal amount of visual audacity from the inanimate forms strong enough to compete if not almost drown out the human presence but then the human form will always take preeminence as we wonder, who are these persons? Where are they going? Who is the guy on the bike waving too enthusiastically?
There are no facts, only interpretations, said rude boy Nietzsche. The camera viewfinder is a small stage in a grand arena of happenings in a buzzing world. Here is a simple go to perspective of how forms impose and theatrically look down on the other — with the men slightly blurred and smaller than all the larger forms. What caught my eye and made the ‘ting go skrrr pa pa’ is the reflection on the mirror to the right. Often punctums are found in places the seeker least expects.
Everything is valid when it comes to obtaining the desired suddenness from certain associations and Gabriel Garcia Marquez once told us that surrealism runs through the streets and Dali agreed that the lens holds unexpected faculties of surprise. There are no recorded instances of Medusa turning a woman to stone. So while this amazon dominates this Medusa, I Perseus could only watch from a distance armed with a camera freezing the act from a safe distance lest I turn to stone. In the 20th century, feminists reassessed Medusa’s appearances in literature and in modern culture, Medusa’s visage has since been adopted by many women as a symbol of female rage; one of the first publications to express this idea was a feminist journal called Women: A Journal of Liberation in their issue one, volume six for 1978. The cover featured the image of the Gorgon Medusa by Froggi Lupton, which the editors on the inside cover explained “can be a map to guide us through our terrors, through the depths of our anger into the sources of our power as women.’’
Surrealism was a cultural movement that began in the early 1920’s, and it became famous for its imagination in visual artworks and writings. Its aim was to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of ‘dream and reality’.
Like the Bretons, Man Ray and Duchamps before me, I always look out for that fraction split of time when everything mashes up in a typical scene and betrays reality as we know it — when a still moment invites a willing audience, who gets to peek into the surreal. For how could I have staged a moment like this unfolding in Yaba market when a mannequin head seats in a clutched embrace like a trophy while the the person holding it has distinct head shape that balances out the forms dominant in the image, not to mention how she is holding the head away from the men, wrapping it seriously as if saving them from the horror of what could happen. This kind of assemblage paves way as base material for a Dadaist collage!
When I started shooting for the Monochrome Lagos project I wrote in my artist statement that I was making a conscious attempt to shift from the sentimental and to seek more from an image instead of the obvious. In a place where one would see struggle I chose to see wealth of soul but these are all abstract evaluations as opposed to what is literal upon first gaze. An image like this of course tells a sentimental tale of making ends meet through cart pushing but visually it’s also a fantastic decisive moment showing how and when a resting wheelbarrow suddenly aligns as if it’s an extra appendage growing out of the body of the cart pusher in the background. Not to ignore the beautiful textures of grey and white that is seen all over the image.
Chiaroscuro, proportion and perspective. Show me any great painting or works of visual or pictorial art and these listed attributes will make or break the image. See Enwonwu, see Carravaagio, See Irvin Penn and even Yousuf Karsh, the solidity of form is best achieved by the light falling against it.
On this day, I was invited to document the last set of rehearsals of the Born Troway project in Bariga, a community outreach program organized by Ade Bantu and Segun Adefila teaching kids from tough neighborhoods creative skills to help them find positive direction and expression. With the most dominant light source peeking in from the window to the left, I had a fulfilling experience shooting these teenagers and of course the peeking face adds a nice peek-a-boo and once again, surreal element to the image, not to forget that the objective of the program was to show these impressionable youth the choice between seeking light or drowning in the darkness of their surroundings. These photo always bring the words of Libba Bray to mind : In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. No one can live in the light all the time. Safe to say that the chiaroscuro method helped project that even more.
As I have always maintained, everything in my frame lives. Meanwhile Damien Marley says the world is a big crime scene. Nah mean? The song is titled Nah mean by the way.
This big crime scene, Lagos, where I am Weegee tickles my fancy in ways that it seems I may spend a lifetime explaining. So here an arrow points, leading the eye to the left of the frame, an unintentional object of almost similar shape like the arrow point otherwise while next to it are lined up feet hidden beneath the white triangle. If an image would make a Dada era poetry, then this stands a chance.
Fantastic images and where to find them, nowhere else than the world around you and www.monochromelagos.com