At MacDowell: Christopher Iduma holds a mirror to Lagos, Nigeria

Christopher Iduma will be the featured artist for MacDowell Downtown on Friday, Sept. 1.

Christopher Iduma will be the featured artist for MacDowell Downtown on Friday, Sept. 1. —PHOTO BY OYKU TUNABOYU

By JONATHAN GOURLAY

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 08-29-2023 11:21 AM

Lagos, Nigeria, is widely recognized as the commercial capital of the African continent and is frequently described as a loud, chaotic and traffic-clogged city.

Photographer Christopher Iduma, at MacDowell for his first residency, will be the featured artist for MacDowell Downtown on Friday, Sept. 1, at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture to introduce the quiet side of one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

 

Iduma has spent the last five years reimaging the city in which he was born, discovering the calm and stillness within the tumult of a city that is home to nearly 30 million people. At MacDowell, he is turning his vision into a book, “Lagos: The History of Quietude.” He’ll show images, discuss his experimental compositions and talk about how he came to the project before answering questions from the audience. Doors open at 7 p.m., with Iduma presenting at 7:30.

After earning a degree in mass communications with a focus on public relations and advertising from the University of Lagos, Iduma spent two years as a copywriter and in marketing before realizing that capturing the essence of his home city was his passion. After two years of learning the craft, Iduma focused on freelance photography, documenting street life while hiring himself out as a fixer and producer for news teams and filmmakers visiting Lagos.

“My entry point into photography was documentary, capturing everyday life,” said Iduma. “I knew I would focus on that, but my work now, while still documentary, is also very experimental and conceptual.” He combines these approaches in the frame of his digital camera, not via computer work. For example, an image that appears to be a distorted portrait of a single subject is revealed, on closer examination, to be a person in the foreground and another in the background.

“I started reimagining Lagos in my own way,” he said, finding moments and locations where he could use his camera to “reflect on the quiet and stillness of the city.” After half a decade, he has amassed thousands of images that serve as a collective memory of Lagos, but also are a personal collection of his experimentation with perspective as he documents moments in time.

Thus far, Iduma’sMacDowell residency has been spent researching other photographer’s books, with the goal of paring his own selections to perhaps about 100 or 150 of the best, while also fitting them into a sequence that builds upon itself in the viewer’s imagination.

Iduma points to the work of 2002 Edward MacDowell Medalist Robert Frank as epitomizing the art of documentary photography, naming Frank’s book “The Americans” as a formative volume. Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Eugene Smith and Garry Winogrand were also named as early influences. And while those forebears obviously shot subject matter on film, Iduma prefers shooting digitally for the crisp flatness of the resulting image and the compactness of the equipment.

We hope you’ll join us for a fascinating look through the lens of Christopher Iduma.

If you go

Who: Photographer Christopher Iduma

What:MacDowell Downtown, Sept. 1, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Monadnock Center for History and Culture at 19 Grove St., Peterborough.

Jonathan Gourlay is senior manager for external communications at MacDowell.