Friday, May 10, 2013

a friend tells me he's glad that people are afraid of lagos. i feel relieved and excited that someone else feels the same way that i do. this place is not for everyone. he says, i don't want everyone to feel comfortable coming here. i think about something my brother said, the world is what it is, you have to give back what it takes from you.  how beautiful. you have to give back what it takes from you.

sounds like something a samurai would say.

you can't freely take a photograph of someone in lagos. this reminds me of one of my first experiences filming in nigeria, at a market in abuja. i was entranced with a group of women sitting around a lone tree at the market. once you pass 30 seconds of filming it is too much, people begin to notice. a woman ran towards me and pushed the camera out of my face. of course. i saw it coming. she tried to curse me. i held my fingers in a similar formation up in her face. this filming was not right, but i couldn't let her put a spell on me. that experience was so important. people notice you here, they see you, for better or worse. it isn't like the u.s. where people coldly pass by
pretending you don't exist. nigerians will never pretend that they don't see you with your camera. they will never pretend you aren't there.

a filmmaker talks about how frustrating it is to always have to pay people. if i am hearing correctly, he suggests that it makes filmmaking lose some of its poetry because you are always negotiating capital in the process. i can understand this. but asking for something in exchange for a photograph is important. i see it as a refusal: i refuse the taking of my image to be used by you. i like that people don't just allow their image to be taken, to travel far and wide, to be used outside of the scope of their own lives. (these are not photographs taken for weddings, funerals, or the simple vanity of a self-portrait snapped with a phone on the way to school, on the bus, on okada because you know you look damn good and want to archive that, want to post it, want to look at your own fine image endlessly scrolling through pictures on the blackberry). taking a photograph carries with it responsibility. it must be an exchange.

the samurai would also say, you have to give back what you take.

a photographic conundrum. i'm not exactly sure when it happened--when i noticed, felt the limits of the single image. i am always taking photographs, but rarely, rarely show them. i wonder if the single photographic image is even interesting anymore. can it draw us in and disorient or re-orient enough to be exciting, or more importantly, relevant? and relevant in a way that causes action (whether in thought or response). currently, the moving image solves this problem for me. it is photographic of course, but not fixed. and people are not fixed when they are moving. they remain whole, dynamic.

i made a video a couple weeks ago with my phone. a group of rollerbladers wait under bridge for danfo. as i enter the bus, one catches the window. i am filming him negotiate the traffic. he is awesome. i watch the footage endlessly. i have a mission to find him before i leave lagos, to give him photographs of himself, a collection of stills that i have excerpted from the moving picture. i want to thank him for being different and unafraid, for giving back all that the city has taken, for being free in this place that is not for everyone.  

Monday, May 06, 2013


Queens. a performance by Ruby Amanze and Wura Ogunji
Saturday, May 11 
Bar Beach 2-6pm

The performance 'Queens' was developed and inspired by the following writing from Ruby Amanze.

I think about worship. What it means to worship something or someone. I think about worshiping oneself. Being god-like somehow. I see a throne. Women can’t sit on those here. But what if? And a crown. Something about wrapping your hair with one of those traditional, elaborate, crunchy fabric headwraps. But the fabric is super long. Awkwardly long and maybe heavy. And the wrapping takes forever and makes your arms tired. And then your head gets a little wobbly as a result of the weight. But it’s still a crown. Somehow. An invisible one because there is no actual fabric. Just the action of wrapping. OR an actual super long fabric. Maybe long enough for two people to wrap their heads at the same time from the same fabric. Like a mirror. Or someone else to wrap your head? Either way, at the end you still manage to balance yourself. Delicately. But with some obvious strain. There is an elevation of sorts. A ladder? A step? Being prostrate is such a beautiful position to be in sometimes. A way to worship something higher…or lower, like the earth. I think about a woman that has a boy inside of her. But I’m not sure how to show that visually. Maybe the wrapping is done by a boy? There is something about a visual balance. Confict. Duality. The chief eve is part boy. Graceful but choppy. Abrupt. Heavy. Delicate. Women here are all woman. It’s all or nothing. Yes and no. Black and white. But what of a diluted woman? A slightly less woman concentration but still capturing the gentleness. The fluidity. The ability to seduce. And to kill.

So in summary: Queen. God. Worshiping self. Elaborate heavy crown. No crown at all. No one worshiping. Duality. Harmony. Dilution. Balance. Graceful. Choppy. Abrupt. Awkward. Delicate. Boy inside woman. Elevation. Prostrate.  


Wednesday, May 01, 2013