Abraham Onoriode Oghobase’s quest for a purpose of existence has led him to a unique form of art, whereby he explores issues relating to human emotions such as loneliness, hope, enthusiasm and fear. His work has been featured in his home country of Nigeria and in Europe.
I discovered the work of Abraham through the Bamako Encounters, which is a Biennial of African Photography held every two years. Abraham kindly tool time out to answer a few questions about his work and current projects.
What’s your photographic background and where are you currently based?
I have been an apprentice with Deji Ajose, a painter and Photographer, and with Uche James Iroha, a sculptor and photographer. I studied at the Yaba College of Technology, School of Art Design and Printing. Eventually majoring in photography.
I live and work in Lagos, Nigeria.
Your ‘The People‘ project looks at the young men in Ghana who call the Katamantu Train Station home. How did you go about choosing this project?
The People was simply inspired by a workshop I’ve been doing for some years working with a friend and a photographer. A French Algerian by the name of Bruno Boudjelal, the facilitator of both workshops.
Firstly in Botswana producing a body of work titled ‘The Tunnel’ inspired by nostalgic feeling away from Lagos.
I was shocked culturally because of the low population in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, compared to my home town of Lagos, which has a population of approximately 17 Million.
As a result I could only react and connect to the tide of people found at a certain time of the day in the tunnel.
A year later I found my self working with Bruno in Ghana. After a week of of thinking what to do. I believe the Tunnel was a transition for me to work in a train station. Only this time I needed to find what spoke to me that I could hear, and the people who live and find the train station as there own transition became an attraction to me as we connected on various levels.
Was it hard to get the guys to open up to you?
There was tension though initially but this was put down to trust.. Who are you? What are your doing here? Why are you with a camera? You want to make money out of us right? Be careful because I never want to see my self been photographed you hear!
These are some of the questions I was confronted with by these young men. Sometimes I would think I should go back home thinking if this is worth it?,what if I’m hurt? eventually we shared something. And the people was born.
In your ‘Ecstatics‘ project, what was the inspiration behind this?
Ecstatic is a work in progress, inspired by the overwhelming nature of Lagos, It is a work in progress. Majorly has to do with my position to the complexity of the space.
Are you working on any new project at the moment? Can you share with us details about it?
Presently I am reading about the history of Lagos which will majorly influence upcoming work. It is untitled for now. In mean time I’m collecting ephemera on the street which will add some sparks for what is yet to be put together. Not just aesthetically but with asocial and political relevance.
What are some of the difficulties experienced by you as a photographer from Africa in Africa?
The problem for me is the population for those that consume the arts in a region like West Africa is relatively too low compared to South African and Europe.
It is a complex situation my brother.
Sometimes it is sad that there is a routine in the art shows, where you end up seeing the same people year round. I end up thinking why is this gap between the work and the public?.
Finally, you can not give what you don’t have, the process is the work and my duty is to produce what I feel from my soul. Problems could be solved in Africa. We have no excuse despite the need and pace of digital and technological advancement, perhaps working with what you have no matter where you are would do with critical approach.
Who are the other unheard of Nigerian photographers who the world should know about?
In Africa we have some exceptional artist working in different and unique media e.g Adeagbo from Republic of Benin, Jonkman of Africa from Nigeria and Berry Bickle originally from Zimbabwe but now lives and works in Mozambique.