Hi Tunde. To begin, please introduce yourself.
I’m a documentary photographer from Nigeria, currently working on a PhD at Sussex. My research focuses on the objectification of children in charity and media representations from the global south. I’ve spent a lot of time working on media projects for NGOs in Africa and Europe; my interest now is in crafting counter-narratives through my photography.
What is the typical role of photography in charity representation?
Images can tell many stories; they are powerful and evocative. Especially images from other parts of the world, they hold a special power. Western media often focuses on a single story when showing images from developing countries. Their view is that the whole of Africa is suffering, starving, unhealthy, and this dehumanises an entire race. I feel like it’s my duty as a Nigerian to show alternative perspectives, to show the beauty that exists in the country. The people are strong, hopeful, resilient.
You recently visited Nigeria. Could you tell us about that trip?
I spent four weeks in a camp for displaced children who have had to leave their homes with their parents because of Boko Haram insurgency. This was the first of three fieldwork visits I’m taking as part of this project. The feedback gathered from the Utopia exhibition will be taken back to the field and will inform the next stage of my research.
How does your own background inform this exhibition?
I think it’s better to have a Nigerian tell this story. I understand the wider context and can combat the misinformation that’s being spread. For example, from the media portrayal, you would think that Boko Haram have taken over the entire country, when in fact they only have power in three out of 36 states.
However, I am from Lagos, in the south of the country, which isn’t directly affected by the terrorist attacks. So there is a level at which I am an outsider as well as an insider. That’s why it was important for me to include images taken by the children in the camp, as well as my own photographs. Self-representation is vital in having a balanced narrative.
Utopia is on display in our south gallery until August 19th.