Photo exhibitions are a feature of the Felabration festival of music and arts, which ritually occurs in the month of October every year. This year, the exhibitions will celebrate ‘Fela’s Women’ (Fela’s Wimmin) who were instrumental to his recognition and fame, and were generally involved in his music and movement in one way or another. These women include his mother, his 27 wives, and Sandra Smith, who is credited for exposing Fela to the ‘Black Movement’ and Black consciousness.
This year, the exhibition is divided into three categories; historical pictures, the recreation – from photographers who have been inspired by the Fela Queens and have recreated their own images off them, and documentation – which captures the Fela dancers from the past to this day and age.
Yagazie Emezi, a photographer, vlogger, and founder of Bialere.com is part of the organising team for this year’s [non-profit] photo exhibitions, as the curator. On the move, in the heart of Lagos Island, she shared plans for the exhibition. According to her, the team is creating an ‘art crawl’ where people can take the time (preferably over the weekend) to participate, by visiting galleries in different parts of Lagos, and appreciate the exhibitions. The exhibition points will be at the Kalakuta Museum in Ikeja, Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Yaba, Freedom Park in Lagos Island, Mydrim Art Gallery in Ikoyi, and Terra Kulture in Victoria Island. Participants can begin at Kalakuta to end at Terra Kulture, and vice versa.
Nine photographers have been selected to be a part of this project for Felabration 2015. They are spread out among the different exhibition points based on their categories and their respective works. At Kalakuta, Chantel Heijnen and Leni Sinclair’s works will be shown. Sinclair is popular for capturing the iconic image of Fela with his fists in the air during the 1970s.
CCA will feature Akin Kongi and Anton Corbijn’s works. Corbijn is known for his black and white photography of rockstars and musicians back in the day. Dexter .T. Jones, a recreation photographer, and Emmanuel Ogabi who is into documentation will have their works exhibited at Freedom Park, Mydrim will feature the works of Yetunde Babaeko and Obi Somto, two prominent Lagos photographers, and Terra Kulture will showcase the works of Femi Akintobi.
The exhibitions at Terra Kulture, Kalakuta, and CCA are the most legendary because the artists stationed in these places documented their work around Fela’s time. Femi Akintobi in particular did a documentation on Fela as a photo journalist, especially around the time of the attack on the Kalakuta shrine, making his works crucial to the exhibition. An opening will be created for participants of the exhibition to interact with him, Yagazie disclosed.
Yagazie is excited at the chance to be a part of the photo exhibition for Felabration 2015. “It’s a great learning experience for me, as I want to dive fully into curating and getting to be familiar with artists’ name, not just in photography, but in the Lagos arts community”. The idea of showcasing the images of Fela’s women and celebrating them this year as the focus of the exhibition is to give people a sense of their history and importance in the making of the legend that is Fela Anikulakpo Kuti.