Depth of Field

Open Eye Gallery, 28-32 Wood Street
10th June - 30th July 2005

Reviewed by Josephine Raven

Many perceive artists collective Depth of Field (DOF) as being instrumental in the rejuvenation of contemporary Nigerian photography. Working within the realms of photo-documentary, they consist of six Lagos-based photographers.

Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Uchechukwu James-Iroha, Toyin Sokefun and Amaize Ojeikere started working together in 2001, meeting regularly to encourage and challenge their individual creative potential. 2003 brought an additional two members to the DOF group - Toyosi Odunsi and Emeka Okereke - who won the newcomer prize at the Bamako Biennale in 2001.

Most of the members lack any formal training in this discipline, pursuing other interests and studies prior to concentrating on photography. All share a dedicated interest in documenting the rapidly changing and expanding urban environment of their home city. Recording and observing all aspects of the city, they experiment using different perspectives, scales, points of view and areas of focus. Hence their adoption of the name ‘Depth of Field’ - a photographic term which refers to ‘the amount of a scene behind and in front of the focusing point that appears sharp in the image.’

Some stage and create their representations, seeking to achieve a particular result, while others casually capture the daily domestic and hectic street life of their everyday surroundings. Amaize Ojeikere and Kelechi Amadi-Obi both portray different aspects of the street markets. Amadi-Obi repeats the same aerial image, although varies the viewpoint and time of day in each composition, while Ojeikere uses symmetry and repetition of pattern to document mass market products such as mobile phone covers and watches.

This hustle and bustle of a rapidly expanding city life dominates the artists’ work, especially in the photographs of Uchechukwu James-Iroha - whose images seem to capture the very nature and essence of a hectic and built-up urban environment. The unassuming street life portraits of Toyosi Odunsi reveal the social nightlife of Lagos, while Emeka Okereke adopts a more staged approach, producing portraits with the most deliberate and pronounced use of perspective. All these directly contrast with the religious offerings of Toyin Sokefun.

Although part of a collective, each photographer has a distinct style, adopting an individual approach to documenting his or her surroundings.

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