MoMA announces New Photography 2023, featuring work by seven artists: Kelani Abass, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Yagazie Emezi, Amanda Iheme, Abraham Oghobase, Karl Ohiri, and Logo Oluwamuyiwa who explore the spatial, social, and historical undercurrents of Lagos.
On view from May 28 through September 16, 2023, the exhibition explores the photographic work of seven artists, all at various stages in their careers, who are united by their critical use of photographic forms and their ties to the artistic scene in the port city of Lagos (Èkó), Nigeria. This is the latest edition of MoMA’s celebrated New Photography series and will mark its return as a gallery presentation after five years. New Photography 2023 marks the first time any of these photographers will present their work at MoMA and is the first group exhibition in MoMA’s history to engage the work of living West African photographers. New Photography 2023 is organized by Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, with the assistance of Kaitlin Booher, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow, Department of Photography.
Since the program began in 1985, New Photography has introduced MoMA audiences to work by more than 150 artists from around the world. Launching the next phase of the series, New Photography 2023 will be the first in a sequence of exhibitions to emerge from specific art scenes across the globe. Following the cues of the featured artists, the show takes Lagos—the largest city in Nigeria and one of the most populous cities on the African continent—as its starting point. The seven international artists featured in the exhibition apply pressure to the idea of photograph as document by interrogating varying forms of visual representation. Many of the artists take scenes of everyday life in Lagos as their subject, rendering new visual expressions of the city through formal experimentation and poetic compositions, or by chronicling personal accounts at the heart of political action. Others engage archival photographs to reveal the psychological traumas and possibilities embedded in physical structures, spatial sites, and historical figures.
“In a world where global systems of relation are a given, photographic images occupy a crucial position. No longer is the photograph solely a means of recording our surroundings, it has become a central prism through which lived experience is made and shared,” says Onabanjo. “New Photography 2023 unites the work of seven artists who plumb the depths of the photographic medium, and mine its spatial, social, and historical undercurrents in order to make space for more nuanced forms of perception and encounter.”
Collectively, the works and approaches of Abass, Akinbiyi, Emezi, Iheme, Oghobase, Ohiri, and Oluwamuyiwa contribute to a global conversation about the role of photography in societal narratives.
In addition to the exhibition presentation, Onabanjo is organizing a Photography Portfolio Review and Critical Workshop through C-MAP Africa in collaboration with The Nlele Institute (TNI), a Pan-African, autonomous nonprofit organization focusing on lens-based media. The program will take place from October 31 through November 2, 2022, at Angels and Muse (5 Sumbo Jibowu St, Ikoyi 101233, Lagos) during Art X Lagos, and is generously supported by MoMA’s International Council.