To round off the 'Lagos: Hustle and Hope' exhibition, we had a panel session titled 'Limitations to Exploring Photography Off the Street', in a bid to bring various people in the industry together to discuss some of the hurdles faced in putting together what was a challenging yet rewarding exhibition.
On the panel were online curator and photographer Yagazie Emezi, award-winning visual artist Uche Okpa-Iroha and conceptual photographer Abraham Oghobase. Curator of the exhibition - Adebola Rayo, moderated the talk. The combination resulted in an interesting evening of ideas from different perspectives, including those of audience members like foremost artist Olu Ajayi.
One shocking discovery was that most works that would have helped in presenting a better rounded reflection of Lagos were commissioned and could not be shown outside their primary purpose. Another was that the photographers that go beyond the surface are few and far in-between or foreigners who come looking for the extra-ordinary in ordinary lives.
At the panel discussion, Abraham Oghobase posited that the most important thing young photographers must embrace is education - absorbing all they can about the art form and then thinking outside the box to conceptualize and present works that will challenge the norm.
Yagazie was emphatic about creating platforms for young photographers to be able to show their work, and she shed light into the peculiar problems that could arise for individual photographers whether as a result of gender or race -- leading to a mini-session where the women photographers in the audience shared their experiences.
In discussing, the limitations to this, Uche Okpa-Iroha harped on the importance of negotiating one's space as an artist. He advised a young artist in the audience not to be in a hurry when approaching a new environment, adding that it sometimes takes him weeks or months to ingratiate himself into a place so as to be able to work there.
In all, one came away with a better sense of how to navigate the art form to create thought-provoking works that would evoke emotions in all who come in contact with them.