“Dis Lagos Life” maps Lagos as a city of ironies – Chidinma Okere
is a city of ironies.
Its highs and lows often create
a fine (im)balance that can easily leave a newcomer
pristine order of Ikoyi is bordered by the chaos of Obalende while the finesse
of Apapa gives way to the ghetto of Ajegunle.
Kiosks and street corner shops are as much a part of the business district as are the sprawling shopping malls covering large swathes of Eko’s land mass, in this city that is called home by over 20 million people.
dense population makes it a melting pot of people and cultures as well as a
culturally, socially, and commercially rich metropolis.
The city provides a sort of informal training to all who seek to navigate its complexities. To those who do not learn fast enough, the city is unrelenting. The beauty of Lagos lies in its chaos. Its history is hidden deep in its buildings and its excellence shown off in the tenacity of those who dwell in her.
Roli O’tsemaye captures the ironies in her poem, which accompanies the images, writes – Dis lagos/Where Crazy is the norm/Because sanity comes a cost too high…/But Dis Lagos Life/We die here.”
Through their works curated by Nneoma Ilogu and showing at The Wheatbaker, six talented artists – Amanda Iheme, Ayanfe Olarinde, Nelly Atting, Olumuyiwa Logo, Omoregie Osakpolor and Somi Nwandu -who live, breathe, and find meaning by exploring the complex, multi-layered history, memory, identity, rhythm, colour and vibe of Lagos, from the inside out allow us take a look at Lagos through their lenses.
Presented by SMO Contemporary Art, ‘Dis Lagos Life’ according to the curatorial statement is an exhibition of “photographs and digital collages exposing the pulsating heartbeat of an unforgiving megacity… gives us an insider’s perspective, through bold images of talented photographers intent on interrogating, informing and advocating for the greater good of this fascinating city.”
each artist’s images and collages as it were, we are offered differing views of
Lagos. The experience
of each display is as varied as the city itself.
Omoreghie’s DISPLACED tells the story of the Egun people and other informal settlers who have been displaced from Lagos waterfronts redoubts. For these ones, eviction without compensation or alternate settlement always looms ahead like a hangman’s noose. Members of this tribe found in Lagos, Ogun and other parts of West Africa are mostly fishermen and women. These waterfronts have been home to them for generations but the state in its grand plan of gentrification has decided that leaving her population homeless is a part of the blue print to make Lagos a megacity. Like a child with a disabled sibling, Lagos is always trying to hide its poor and working class population. For this city, powered mostly by a population sitting on on the cusp of poverty, her efforts at urbanization through high rise and high end architecture with no plans for stimulating the economy, improving housing or any other far reaching straategy are not just superficial but a laughable and sorry sight to behold.
DISPLACED, started in 2017, is an ongoing project to highlight this issue and pay
tribute to the resilient spirit of the displaced people of Tarkwa Bay and other
informal settlements around the state.
Nelly Ating describes herself as “a photojournalist reporting from the front lines of conflict zones in Nigeria.” Her exhibits deal with Nigeria’s emigration problem. In 2018, the Pew Research Center revealed that 45% of Nigerians planned to relocate abroad before 2024. Much of this population are under 40. Cost of visas are high and for every one person who moves, there are a thousand others who cannot afford to. Her project captures how people “handle love, intimacy, loneliness across such distances”. She also documents the pain of being left behind, of leaving a lover behind, the agony of visa application, and the cost of a possible denial.
Amanda Iheme explores Lagos through its buildings. An architectural photographer, she delves into the themes of history, truth, emotion and spirituality as they relate to buildings and spaces.
film maker and photographer, Oluwamuyiwa Logo and self-taught mixed media
artist, Ayanfe Olarinde, their interest is to capture stories from perspectives
often overlooked and taken for granted, and, hopefully, through them advocate
and raise awareness for the marginalised.
images focus on the “infamous” Makoko. Through her poignant images she takes
her audience on a journey from stilt
houses to canoes gliding on the Atlantic.
Together, these six artists guide us through the
beauty, colour, grandeur and squalor that makes up Lagos life.
Dis Lagos Life by SMO Contemporary Art is open till May 17 at The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi.