Sunday, December 28, 2008

James Iroha Uchechukwu of Nigeria wins 2008 Prince Claus Awards for Photography

These articles were taken from the Prince Claus Awards web site and also from the on line web site “The Power of Culture.” The web address where the original of each excerpt may be found follows each excerpt.

"James Iroha Uchechukwu (b. 1972, Enugu) is the leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers. By fusing the documentation of everyday reality with the creative language of imagery, Uchechukwu expands the possibilities of photography, pushing local art in new directions. His high quality images depict bodies in context, exploring the physicality of existence in the mix of cultures and influences that is 21st century Lagos, a megacity with urgent social issues. Fire, Flesh and Blood (2004), a group of images depicting open-air abattoirs, won the Elan Prize at the African Photography Encounters (2005). While documentary in inspiration, the series plunges the viewer into the chaos of colour, smoke and close-ups that are iconic in their intensity, capturing moments that are at once harsh, powerful and poetic.

Uchechukwu was instrumental in founding the Depth of Field (DOF) collective, bringing six talented young photographers together to create strong exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. By combining their highly individual perspectives they offer insight into the complexity of their environment. Uchechukwu is also instrumental in mentoring a younger generation of photographers through workshops and seminars.

James Iroha Uchechukwu is awarded for his striking photographic work, for his stimulation of photography as a contemporary Nigerian art form, and for his energetic support of young artists.

The Prince Clause 2008 Awards

Below is an article about Uchechukwu taken from “The Power of Culture.”

Photographer James Iroha Uchechukwu and the shape of blank spaces

December 2008 -The Nigerian photographer James Iroha Uchechukwu(Enugu, 1972) just completed a stay in Amsterdam at the Thami Mnyele Foundation studio. Within the framework of the Terrain Vague project, he combed the city looking for empty places, images that fit the bill of his concept of the phrase. His chosen directive was the definition applied by architect Professor Ignasi de Solá-Morales: "seemingly blank spaces that are either underused or abandoned, nondescript or just plain boring." Terrain Vague is a residency project in Amsterdam (Thami Mnyele) and Las Palmas (Casa África), with four participating artists. The project is organised by Multipistes, a multi-stage cooperative established by Abdellah Karroum and Eline Van der Vlist, cultural administrators for the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. The results will be exhibited on Las Palmas and bundled into a publication.

Uchechukwu is one of the eleven winners of the Prince Claus Awards 2008. From the jury report: "James Iroha Uchechukwu is awarded for his striking photographic work, his stimulation of photography as a contemporary Nigerian art form, and his energetic support for young artists."

In the summer of 2008, Uchechukwu’s work was on display in the Netherlands at Snap Judgments, an exhibition compiled by Okwui Enwezor in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum. On that occasion, Uchechukwu’s work was presented as part of the artists collective that he personally established: Depth of Field (DOF). Like in Terrain Vague, the focus in DOF is determined by the city. Uchechukwu, for example, photographed an abattoir in southern Nigeria and made group portraits of athletes and soda vendors. Regarding his importance as an African photographer from the African continent, Mark Sealy, curator and director of Autograph (Association of Black Photographers): "[…] Uchechukwu’s photographs function like hot molecules across the body politic of photographic institutions that regurgitate the same old canon […]."

The Power of Culture

The Prince Claus Awards have been presented annually to artists, thinkers and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean since 1997.

About the Prince Claus Awards

The Prince Claus Awards initiative
The Prince Claus Fund approaches a changing group of experts in fields relevant to its mission of culture and development to nominate candidates.

Outstanding quality
Outstanding quality is an essential condition for an award. The most important consideration of the jury is the positive effect of a laureate’s work on a wider cultural or social field. The Prince Claus Fund interprets culture in a broad sense to encompass all kinds of artistic and intellectual disciplines, science, media and education.

A principal award and additional awards
The Principal Award of € 100,000 is presented during a festive ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam in December every year. The additional awards of € 25,000 each are presented in the Dutch embassies in the countries where the recipients live in December and January.

The Prince Claus Awards Books
Every year, the Fund publishes a book including the awards speech by one of the Honorary Chairmen, an extract of the lecture by a leading thinker, the jury’s report and extensive discussions of the laureates’ work by renowned experts.
Prince Claus Awards Books

The Prince Claus Fund maintains a broadly based view of culture that accommodates all kinds of artistic and intellectual disciplines, the transmission of culture, and education and media. In addition, the Fund is interested in the cultural and intercultural dimensions of fields that are not obviously a part of ‘culture’ in the conventional sense. Examples include technology, science and sport. These fields may also entail vocabularies and vernaculars – such as salsa, rap, combat sports and marathon running – that travel across the world and develop into universal languages that span different cultures. Interculturality is prominent on the Fund’s agenda.

The Fund is interested in all the concepts and activities that are relevant to the extensive field of culture and development. Each year the Fund chooses a theme in order to introduce an area of concern.

In its policy, the Prince Claus Fund is guided by four main themes: Zones of Silence (the locating and opening of areas of cultural silence); Creating Spaces of Freedom (the creation of cultural sanctuaries); Beauty in Context (the analysis of beauty in different cultural environments); and Living Together (the art of co-existence). Over the years, the Fund has also worked with a series of sub-themes, such as The Survival and Innovation of Crafts (as part of Beauty in Context), The Positive Results of Asylum and Migration (as part of Living Together) and Humour and Satire (as part of Creating Spaces of Freedom).

The Prince Claus Awards

1 comment:

CareTaker said...

Some of James'excellent photography can be found on AfricanLoft here.