George Osodi: Paradise Lost: Revisiting the Niger Delta

29 March – 3 May 2008



The third and final exhibition of the 4 part curatorial project Democrazy features emerging Nigerian photographer George Osodi who brings a complex, multifaceted perspective of the Niger Delta to a Lagos and international audience. His powerful documentary images highlights the daily lives of Niger Deltans, the civil unrest, the environmental degradation as a result of oil and gas exploration and the lost dreams of millions of people in one of the richest regions in Nigeria if not in Africa.

Osodi has gained widespread international visibility and interest in his Niger Delta project since their presentation at Documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007. Osodi states that ‘ Whilst this exhibition shows my works that deal with the consequence and effects of economic stagnation, environmental degradation and political upheaval, it was also important to portray this region from a different perspective. I wanted to show the duality of life in the Delta regions, the beauty of ugliness, the children playing football in a green field with gas flaring high in the background, the women in their traditional attire waving their symbolic white handkerchief as they danced, the greenness and abundance of the mangroves, the men at the window of their aluminium window, the water glistening as the sunsets and the women fishing in polluted waters. It is amazing how people carry on with their lives, with their daily routines with a smile. I wanted to put a human face on this paradise lost. I think the portrait and landscape images contribute to a different vision of the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta was and is a beautiful place. If the independence vision had been carried through today it would rank high in the world as a leading eco-tourism destination. But unfortunately oil was discovered over fifty years ago.’

George Osodi, born in Lagos 1974, is a Nigerian photographer based in Lagos, Nigeria. He studied Business Administration at the Yaba College of Technology Lagos, before working as a photojournalist for the Comet Newspaper in Lagos from 1999-2002. He became a member of the Associated Press News Agency in 2002.

Osodi has covered many assignments for both locally and internationally with his photographs published in many international and local media such as the “New York Times,” “Time Magazine,” the “Guardian of London,” “The Telegraph,” “USA Today,” the “International Herald Tribune,” CNN, BBC Focus on Africa Magazine,Der Spiegel and many more. In 2004 he won first prize for the Fuji African Photojournalist of the Year.

He has participated in several exhibitions including most recently Documenta12 Kassel, Germany, 2007, Beyond the Surface, Aix en Provence, France 2007, and Petrodollart, Galerie Motte et Rouart, Paris 2007. His solo exhibitions include Lagos Uncelebrated, Goethe Institute, Lagos, 2007 and Living the Highlife British Council at NIMBUS Art Centre, Lagos, 2004.

Curator Bisi Silva. Installation views Paradise Lost:Revisiting the Niger Delta exhibition at the CCA,Lagos gallery. Images: Courtesy CCA,Lagos.

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