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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

International Photography Festival Lagosphoto Opens On October 27 In Benin

Marking Its Largest Expansion To Date.

On View: October 27 – December 31, 2023

Curated by AAF’s founder and director Azu Nwagbogu, and East Wing Artistic Director (Dubai, UAE) Peggy Sue Amison, the 14th edition of the international photography festival inaugurates its opening at the Fondation Zinsou Museum, bringing together 38 national and international artists igniting hopeful visions of change within this year's theme ‘Ground State – Fellowship Within the Uncanny’.

The African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organization and art space based in Lagos inaugurates the 14th edition of international photography festival LagosPhoto, on October 27, 2023, at the Fondation Zinsou Museum in Ouidah, Benin, marking the festival's largest expansion to date. The opening's program includes a walkthrough of the exhibition conducted by curators Azu Nwagbogu, Maria Pia Bernardoni and Peggy Sue Amison, showcasing works by artists Carlos Idun-Taiwah, Eliane Aïsso, Gloria Oyarzabal, Louis Oke-Agbo, Sophie Négrier and Tobi Onabolu. This year’s theme, ‘Ground State – Fellowship Within the Uncanny’ brings together photographic works exploring the present moment and envisioning repair, syncopation, putrefaction, restitution, and restoration. On view until December 31, 2023, the festival's programming is held in cultural venues and public spaces across Ouidah, Cotonou and Porto-Novo in Benin, and Lagos, Nigeria. This geographical expansion offers a wider audience the opportunity to engage with the powerful works of talented photographers, challenging our own complicity in a culture of desire founded on consumption.

Bringing together 38 national and international artists, this year’s edition welcomes talents from all over the world including Nigeria, Republic of Benin, United States of America, Ireland, and Australia, showcasing a myriad of artistic visions for hopeful change. In addition to the exhibited works, the festival's programming includes photography workshops, artists' talks, concerts, networking events and panel discussions, supporting the festival's mission to establish a community for contemporary photography, and present the artistic medium as the embodiment of exploration of historical and contemporary issues and the sharing of cultural practices.

Photography has always held a mysterious power. In the past two decades, it has played a significant role in the rise of post-truth ideologies encouraging divisive and tribal societies. The malaise of the twenty-first century presents unsettling possibilities and anxieties surging from dystopian post-covid realities, growing conflicts, and the indelible signs of climate change. Recalcitrant colonial mindsets continue to judge worth through an impossible hierarchy. Efforts to imagine decolonized and sustainable futures have been captured in recurring hierarchies of different entities delivering the same results. As society reaches a Ground State, where everything humanity knows as ‘common sense’ no longer applies, there is an urge to restore, repair and restitute the mysteries of oral histories and aspects vital for survival. For its 2023 edition LagosPhoto Festival invites artists to showcase new perspectives of humanity’s revival and equilibrium through hopeful visions of social, political, environment and spiritual change.

Initiated in 2010, LagosPhoto has since created a community of local and international artists united through contemporary photography encapsulating individual experiences and identities from the African continent. Through an extensive program of exhibitions, workshops, screenings and large-scale outdoor installations, the festival promotes education and reclaims public spaces, engaging local and global audiences with the continent’s historical and contemporary stories narrated through photography.

As in this year’s edition taking place in the Republic of Benin and Nigeria, the festival’s recurring topics of restitution and cultural heritage have set the tone for groundbreaking programs. In 2020’s ‘Rapid Response Restitution – The Home Museum’, audiences were invited to produce a fast shutter retrieval of their personal and family’s cultural heritage to be presented in an inclusive digital exhibition, sparking an interest and conversation on cultural heritage and a visual intellect amongst citizens. ‘Searching for Prince Adewale Oyenuga’ in 2021 presented a project about a missing suitcase with a historic archive of photos and paintings left in Barcelona and repatriated to Nigeria, highlighting the thematic of restitution. In 2022 ‘Remember Me—Liberated Bodies; Charged Objects’ interrogated the photography’s influence in shaping, archiving, and ordering the stories of communities and individual identities, determining the way the present and future are constructed.