Friday, 5 September 2014

First post-Ojeikere book for launch in London

 J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere

Less than one year after veteran Nigerian photographer, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere passed on, a book on his work and career is set for launch courtessy of Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos.

Under its newly established publishing initiative, Art-iculate, the CCA is producing what it described as an ambitious monograph on Ojeikere.

 Bisi Silva, director at CCA disclosed that the book will feature a selection of more than 200 photographs from the photographer’s “extensive archive.” The book, which is scheduled for formal presentation during 1:54 African Art Fair in London, holding from 16-19 October 2014, highlights themes that range from architectural studies, portraiture and fashion-related to musical, theatrical and dance performances as well as the photographer's most pronounced identity, the native Nigerian hairstyles.

Silva added that the new publication "will feature a stunning collection of high-quality black-and-white photographs that bear witness to the critical role that photography has played in the history of Nigeria and throughout Africa." 

Silva traced the publication to five years of researching Ojeikere and his work. She urged art lovers and photo enthusiasts to support the book as it goes into the final stages of production. "Your contribution will go towards the cost of design, image and pre-printing production as well as the final printing and binding of the publication." 

However, CCA is not alone in the promotion of the book.  "We are engaging with Kickstarter’s global audience in order to complete this monograph and to develop alternative avenues for publishing in and from Africa that aren’t dependent on the major international art publishers and distributors," Silva disclosed.

 Ojeikere (1930-2014) began his photography career in 1950 after acquiring his first camera, a Kodak Model Brownie D. Over a period of six decades, the photo artist had kep an archive of over 10,000 images that stress the importance of photography in the history of Nigeria and and Africa’s socio-economic as well as political environment. 

Ojeikere’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, featuring in more than 50  group shows. Among them are Documenta XII (2007), the 55th Venice Bienniale (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma, Helsinki (2011) and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2010). His work is featured in major museum collections such as the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), the Brooklyn Museum (NYC), the Tate Modern (London), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and the Musée du quai Branly (Paris). 

On the importance of the book, Silva noted how Ojeikere’s career has "dramatically influenced the trajectory of photography in Nigeria, Africa, and the world more broadly." She likened Ojeikere to other photographers of West African descents such as Seydou Keïta (b. 1921-2001), James Barnor (b. 1929) and Malick Sidibe (b. 1936). increasing  interest in Ojeikere’s work, Silva argued continues in recent years.

Silva added: "The texts in the publication evaluate Ojeikere’s work in relation to histories of West African photography, architectural design, and hair culture, while also contextualising the artist’s practice vis-à-vis recent photography in Nigeria and Africa. The detailed interview is one of the last extended conversations with the artist, and provides illuminating insight into his career, working methods, and cultural investments."
  CCA, Lagos is an independent art space that is funded on a project-by-project basis.  We are a small team of committed staff and volunteers and have decided to pursue the project as a self-published initiative because of the lack of art publishing and distribution channels across the continent. 

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