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LagosPhoto Festival
Photography Justine Tjallinks

The photographers lighting up Nigeria right now

We profile some of the standout artists whose work is currently on show at LagosPhoto Festival 2017


Last month saw the opening of this year’s LagosPhoto Festival – the first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria – where legendary Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso debuted his latest body of work, which delves into the politics of religion in Africa. Showcasing the works of image makers who use photography to tell multifaceted stories about Africa and people of the African diaspora, the month-long festival (20 November – 15 December), founded in 2010, aims to unite local and international artists, as well as explore historical and contemporary African issues, through exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, and large-scale outdoor prints displayed throughout Lagos; reclaiming public spaces and making art accessible to all Lagosians.

Featuring portraits of fake pirates in Kenya and mystical heroines, this year’s edition of LagosPhoto Festival, entitled “Regimes of Truth”, centres on the the legacy of FESTAC – the major international arts and culture festival which took place in Lagos in 1977 – and the Biafran War (1967 To 1970) – which tore apart Nigeria. Below are just some of the standout image makers and photography series from the festival’s 8th edition.


Based in the Central African Republic, photographer Samuel Fosso is celebrated around the world for his striking, gender-bending self-portraits in which he adopts various personas – from civil rights leader Malcolm X to the glamorous bourgeois woman of Fosso’s “Tati” series. For his latest work, Fosso takes on the role of the pope, exploring the rotation of belief systems within the African continent.


Based between Barcelona and Mumbai, acclaimed photojournalist Lorena Ros uses images to highlight human rights abuses. An activist working extensively with charities, Ros previously ran photography workshops for inmates in Spanish women’s prisons. In her series “Modern Slave Trade”, Ros documents the trafficking of women in Nigeria, and the exploitation of African religious rituals to entrap women – forced to work in the European sex industry through violence and debt bondage.


Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Kadara Enyeasi is a self-trained art photographer and junior curator at the African Artist’s foundation whose multimedia works examine otherness and the body. In the project, “Change Your Style”, Enyeasi investigates the social and political changes to which Nigerians constantly have to adapt; a project inspired by the childhood game of the same name, in which players are called upon through song to freeze into different body positions.


Inspired by master painters from the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam-based photographer Justine Tjallinks captures the diversity of human beauty through muted colours and elaborate fashion compositions. In her autobiographical series “La Trahison Des Images”, Tjallinks – who started out as an art director – reflects on her own oppressed youth; and through surrealism questions the perceptions of the viewer.


Based in Dakar, Alun Be is a self-taught Senegalese photographer whose work examines the human form and interaction, primarily focused on the human condition in public spaces. In his series “Edification”, Be – an architect graduate who has lived in France and the United States – explores the impact of technology on African society and seeks to imagine what the digital future in Africa will look like.


Dutch artist and provocateur Jan Hoek is most known for his bold images of those on the fringes of African society – from trans sex-workers in South Africa to mentally ill homeless men in Ethiopia. In his work, “The ‘Real’ Somali Pirates”, Amsterdam-based Hoek captures a small group of men in Nairobi who were pretending to be pirates; who, during the frequent Somali hijacks of 2010, tricked Western journalists into paying them for interviews. Journalists often travelled to the capital of Kenya to interview ex-pirates as it was much safer than going to Somalia.


Born in Luanda, Angola, Keyezua is an artist focused on the narratives of African woman. In her project “Fortia”, Keyezua – a graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in the Netherlands – uses photography and handmade recycled masks to poetically celebrate difference and explore attitudes to disability. With her images, Keyezua seeks to empower vulnerable groups and to explore her identity as both African and Dutch.


Lubabetu Abubakar is a Nigerian image maker who specialises in portraiture and fashion photography. In her collection of portraits titled “Eniyamere” – which translates to “that which the eyes have seen” in the Ebira dialect – Port Harcourt-based Abubakar, who studied law in England, experiments with colour in a study of faces and body language.