Launched in 2010, LagosPhoto is the first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria. In a month long festival, events include exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, discussions and large scale outdoor prints displayed throughout the city with the aim of reclaiming public spaces and engaging the general public with multifaceted stories of Africa. LagosPhoto aims to establish a community for contemporary photography which will unite local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across all of Africa. LagosPhoto presents and educates about photography as it is embodied in the exploration of historical and contemporary issues, the sharing of cultural practices, and the promotion of social programmes.
The 2019 edition marks the tenth anniversary of the LagosPhoto Festival themed Passports.
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
‘Imagine’, ~ John Lennon
The digital world plays home and host to the greatest migration in the history of humanity. As human existence shifts from physical geographies to screens and digital media, the prospect of globalization appears egalitarian and desirable, however, once cosmopolitanism assumes physical dimensions, the inequity of possessing a privileged or non-privileged travel document becomes evident. Traveling the world freely, without being a subject of scrutiny or suspicion is still —and maybe more than ever —impossible for a large percentage of the world population, because "the value" of a passport is measured by calculating its "visa-free score" (VFS). Though globally, we often anticipate shared, though not identical core values, we commonly encounter comparable challenges, irrespective of regions and climate zones, we still live in a narrow and immobile world that prevents fluctuating lifestyles and existences outside of the digital space.
Historically the passport was a document that was designed to enable individuals safe passage across foreign ports/territories it entitles the holder to enter and leave a territory. The data page within the contemporary passport reduces our identities to a single page with a single image. It formally claims to certify who we are, but humans are not reducible and our identities are constantly shifting, mixing and changing. What we are left with automatically fosters stereotypes in terms of sex, race, and credibility. Recent scientific knowledge in genetics makes a mockery of this reduction in identification. Excellence in science, sports, literature, fashion and so on further indicates the absurdity of a one-page method of identification and, indeed segregation. Within an African context, the entire idea of a national passport takes on an even more absurd and pathetic twist. The idea of African nationality—which is a complete colonial construct— fulsomely embraced by citizens to discriminate and oppress other Africans as seen in xenophobic attacks and lazy language makes one wonder if, as Africans, we have understood this recent history.
Passports is the theme of the 10th edition of LagosPhoto Festival and it intends to delve into the constraints and prospects of the most important official document a human being holds. This year’s edition aims to bring alive, an alternative global environment in which artists of different nationalities are invited to explore options of creating a fluid and permeable world, where nationality, gender, and historical imbalances are secondary. Through the course of a decade, the festival has proven to be a space where artists can meet on neutral ground to share ideas, innovation, and capacities. Thus, the jubilee edition especially concentrates on the reciprocal energies the festival has experienced in past years and will open the discussion of how we can create a flexible and more egalitarian world within the existing global restrictions. What are the options of living freely in a world that will be determined by borders?
LagosPhoto invited artists to consider the festival platform as a laboratory for ideas and a safe space for experimentation with open and transformative forms of identity, creating new categories of an international identity that allows for diversity. What kind of passport could certify and authorize these overarching values? The 10th edition of LagosPhoto presents artists who are able to raise relevant questions and propose possible answers or sustainable alternatives and who believe in a versatile world that is not based on utopias but routed in the way we already live.
The Curatorial Team