Monday, 9 November 2009

Okiy… savouring events in pictures

FROM his studio, the young photo–artist, Ebiware Okiy, has escaped into the world of culture, sports and sundry political events. He runs what he claims to be a pioneer digital photo studio in Benin, Edo State, but believes that the future of photography is bright.
While taking his guest through his studio, he expressed dissatisfaction on what he describes as public’s wrong perspective of photography. Quite a busy studio – clients, mostly of middle-class could be seen, either collecting large format portraits or transacting other related businesses.
“That’s alright, at least some people appreciate the need to engage quality photographers in their social events. But photography goes beyond that,” he argues as he introduces his guests to using photographs to tell events.
Crowd events such as Annual Igue Festival, Benin; Abuja Carnival, FCT, Abuja; Itsekiri Festival; Africa Cup of Nation, Ghana 2008 and ecstatic scenes of the jubilating people of Edo State, when the current Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was declared the governor of the state.

FROM a degree in Economics at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, his passion for photography took him to Lagos in 2005, where he had a crash programme with the seasoned photographer, Don Barber. The experience, he says, “broadened my perception of photography from social to documentary.”
Beyond the excitement of watching 22 players chasing one ball, the other side of the beauty of the game of football are the fans as seen in Okiy’s captures of two female fans of Black Stars of Ghana, whose costumes and make-ups add a carnival-like atmosphere to the scene. And when that tensed moment of the game – which every fan hates comes up – God is always brought in as a praying Super Eagles fan painted in green did not escape Okiy’s lens.
On that historic day of November 11, 2008, after Oshiomhole was declared winner, Okiy appeared to have laid an ambush for the ecstatic mood of the people, so explained other works, most of which were part of his recent show, A Day In Time held in Benin
From the shots of those with brooms to the mass movement of commercial motorbike riders known as Okada, Okiy thoughtfully captures the scenes while revealing to an extent, the volatile role of youths in a political outburst; which may be outrageous. There was no limit to this expression of joy as it also involved dangerous use of vehicular movements such as riding on lorry bonnets and hanging on step board of buses.
The reactions, Okiy recalls, was spontaneous, so his camera responded accordingly.
“I never really planned to take these shots until I was confronted with the situation,” he recalls, adding that the documentary comes more useful for most people who are cut off from the high-density areas where the actions took place.
During Ghana 2008, fans, particularly Ghanaians, “were very receptive to cameras, in fact always pose for it”
Comparatively, he notes that it is usually a challenge for him taking shots in public here. For example, “Benin people are very unreceptive to camera and could be very violent.”
Most thoughtful of his captures are some looming environmental crisis in flood prone parts of Edo State; two of these raise alarm over how the inhabitants of these settlement are fast losing their homes to flood.
Okiy’s creative sensibility either in traditional or digital finishing tells a story in contextual sense of it.

The Ben Enwonwu 6th Distinguished Lecture, which holds on November 18, 2009, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos, will be delivered by the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).

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