The sixth edition of LagosPhoto Festival Designing Futures positions the relationships between African design, the design of Africa and our understanding of how we may design Africa, as the platform to discuss our past, present and future intentions.
With history, circumstance and fantasy as significant pointers of the lens-based projects exhibited, Designing Futures highlights crucial aspects of ‘making’ that come into play in African signs and design dialogues.
The making of image, identity, desire, ecology, and even culture are explored through advertising, textiles, portraiture, factual and conceptual photography ; these offer tangible and esoteric backdrops to how we process, navigate and inhabit the realms of a future Africa.
Alice Smeets, Andile Buka, Andrea Keyezua, Antoine Tempé & Omar Victor Diop, Emilie Régnier, Ben Krewinkel, Chris Saunders, Daniel Donely, Delphine Gatinois, Fabrice Monteiro, François Beaurain, François Knoetze, Gloria Oyarzabal, Ima Mfon, James Ostrer, Joana Choumali, Kadar Enyeasi, Max Pinckers & Michel Burger, Mehdi Sefrioui, Namsa Leuba, Navin Kala, Nobukho Nqaba, Owise Abusaid, Patrick Selemani, Patrick Willocq, Robin Hammond, Robin Maddock & Benedicte Kurzen, Romaric Tisserand, Vincente Paredes, William Ukoh, Zohra Opoku
I feel very tempted to start this introduction by giving the dictionary definition of the overarching theme behind this edition of LagosPhoto : Design. It would make sense and would help everyone, including me, to create a bit of order in the explosion of ideas and concepts the word undeniably carries. I will focus instead on other words I have just used, "order" and "explosion" as I understand they can define in a more complete way what my approach to design and specially "Design + Africa" will be like, and how I will try to present a wider understanding to the subject that, I hope, will go beyond the African wax fabric (that we all know, is made in Holland).
Let’s get philosophical. Making a plan is designing your future, crossing your fingers, praying... a pony tail, a choreography, the shape of countries like Mali,
History (with capital letters). As I see it, any intention applied to reality obeys to a certain extent the principles of design and that just leads me to think that I could as easily curate a festival with "Everything" as a subject. But, the festival happens to be in Africa and then things get interesting again. We need to think therefore about what "intention" really means in Africa and what role genuine African "intention" has played in the rest of the world ́s perception of the whole continent. We can of course, go for the obvious aesthetic richness and undeniable survival creativity that is already acknowledged as part of the bunch of clichés we consume daily coming from Africa, but there is more. In fact, the same existence of a photography festival in Lagos responds to what I can see is a change in the pattern (design again) of the world’s "order".
And here comes the "explosion" part. An explosive combination of facts has, in the last few years, placed Africa as a crucial reference and as an inspiration for cutting edge design and "coolness". Our poor confused brains process now with the same hash-tag, news and reports that show us smiling kids in slums next to jaw dropping concept stores and a fashion industry that has definitely lost any complex of exoticism. What is the role of design in all this ? Well, As I see it, everything.
Cristina De Middel, 2015 Curator