Lagos Photo Festival / Abosede George / Barnard College, Columbia University
9th Lagos Photo Festival
Alliance Francais, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.
An installation / interactive sculpture designed to enhance the experience of an audio documentation by artist and scholar of African History at Columbia University, Abosede George‘s Ekopolitan Project, exhibited at the 9th Lagos Photo Festival.
The installation was designed to enable stillness, calm and concentration for visitors listening to the Audio presentation by the artist via headphones. Ekopolitan Project (Exhibition Extract) at Lagos Photo
What is the language of the archive? And what are the politics of translation involved in converting history into archival record? Such questions are at the heart of this project. I propose to explore the practices and politics of translation involved in producing the archive by reimagining a little known, but not totally unknown, court case that unfolded in 19th century Lagos. The project will synthesize a set of archival fragments to creatively recreate the circumstances of the trial as an audio play. By attending to text, sound, language, and time, the project seeks to provoke a meditation on how archives work as a technology for making meaning of times past.
The court case involves a dispute between the colonial government in Lagos and the relatives of a murdered returnee from Brazil, over the question of who was entitled to receive the profits from the sale of her real estate. As the dispute unfolds over the course of two decades we learn a lot about the life histories of all the witnesses and about life, death, laws and justice in nineteenth century Lagos and environs.
The case has been variously written about by other historians such as Kristin Mann (Emory University) and Susan Rosenfeld (UCLA). See:Kristin Mann, “The Illegal Slave Trade and One Yoruba Man’s Transatlantic Passages from Slavery to Freedom” in The rise and demise of slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world / edited by Philip Misevich and Kristin Mann. (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2016). There is also a video of a lecture in which Professor Mann discusses the case at ekopolitanproject.org . See: http://ekopolitanproject.org/lagos-from-the-pepper-farm-to-the-megacity-conference-keynote-lecture-by-professor-kristin-mann/