On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise is a year-long programme organized by CCA Lagos to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Independence of seventeen African countries including Nigeria. The intellectual and conceptual underpinning of the project questions the limits of postcolonial critical thinking and ideas. The project attempts to engender new methods of reflecting on the economic, cultural and socio-political concerns of the present as well as questioning one's relationship to the larger totality. This provides a platform on which artists and cultural practitioners can explore new ways of engaging and articulating the conditions of our contemporaneity.
International Art Photography Residency Programme
Within the context of On Independence and the Ambivalence of Promise, CCA, Lagos is organizing a series of activities and events. One of these was the ambitious International Art Photography Residency (February – March 2010) that sought to explore the ever-evolving aesthetic, conceptual and technical potential of art photography. Over an intensive 30-day period, the resident artists spent a lot of time in the “studio,” and out in the city creating work. In addition to this practical component, the residency programme also emphasized research and presentation skills. The artists spent a great deal of time conducting research that resulted in weekly and formal presentations on the practice of various international artists, as well as presentations on their own work. The participants were also required to read a variety of critical essays and contribute to discussion sessions. Portfolio reviews and presentations by the facilitators also played an integral role in the overall structure of the programme. Artists took part in lectures, seminars, portfolio reviews, and group critiques - in addition to pursuing independent and collaborative artistic projects.
The residency programme focused foremost on the discursive dimensions of art photography and the various ways in which the medium can be employed to address the conditions of our contemporary present. The act of conceiving the programme, however, was also heavily embedded in responding to the pedagogical climate for art practices in Nigeria, especially where the medium of photography is concerned. Considering that almost all photographic training in Nigeria emphasizes the technical and the literal, this project was rooted in proposing a new model for workshops/ residencies on the continent—a model that amalgamates the technical with the critical whilst underscoring conceptual modes of working and thinking. Enmeshed in this structure is a highly collaborative impulse that deviates from hierarchy-based training, and instead seeks to foster a co-operative local and international dynamic by inviting resident artists and facilitators from all over the world, and by partnering with various international arts organizations.
The residency culminated with a dynamic exhibition that reflected the aesthetic and conceptual possibilities of the medium, while also demonstrating the unique and varied approaches of the resident artists.