“Lagos: Articles of a City’s Visual Code”
Uche Okpa-Iroha was born on the 2nd of January 1972 in Enugu, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor of Technology degree (1997) in Food Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
He was spurred to go into photography in 2005. His early works were inspired by the essence of humanity and the living conditions of his subjects. Most of his portraits can be interpreted as dialogues between his subjects and their habitual environment. Uche’s current style seems to draw attention to the continent (Africa) where he uses cinematic narratives as a reference to investigate the stereotypical representation of deviant or marginal cultures.
Uche is a founding member of the Nigeria photography group known as the Blackbox photography collective and a founding member of the Invisible Borders Trans-African photography travel group in 2009. His first major work “Under Bridge Life”, published in 2008 was favorably received by the critics and exposed him to the international media and art market.
He has shown his works in exhibitions within and outside Nigeria – the First African Photo Contest, Tarifa, Spain 2008; “Loving Lagos” exhibition, Berlin 2008 and the 10th Havana Biennial, Havana 2009.Others Include “ Uprooting the Gaze; Foreign places, Familiar patterns”, Brighton Photo Fringe 2010, African Emerging Photography, Paris Photo 2011 and the Ungovernables (Invisible Borders Group) New Museum, New York 2012.
Uche is a two-time winner of the Seydou keita Award for the best photography creation at the 8th and 10th Bamako Encounters with the “Under Bridge Life” and “the Plantation Boy” projects in 2009 and 2015 respectively. He also received the Jean Paul Blachere prize in 2009. Uche was nominated in the Prix Pictet Award “Growth” in 2010 and the National Geographic All Roads Photography program in 2011. He is a contributor to several publications including “Lagos – the City at work”, “Nigerians behind the lens” and “Unifying Africa”.
Uche was among the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass selection committee in 2016. In 2015, he showed his work at the La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition – All The World’s Futures (Invisible Borders Group Exhibition) in Venice Italy; Sights and Sounds – Nigeria at the Jewish Museum, New York; Finissage Videonale.15 Videonale In Lagos, Changing City – Shifting Spaces Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany.
In 2014, he also was involved in Sounds of Silence, CODA Museum, Apeldoom, The Netherlands; Phantasms of The Non-City | Lagos Photo Festival; FNB JoBurg Artfair, South Africa; International Artist Initiated Exhibition at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Scotland; Nigerian Centenary Photography Exhibition at the Bonhams, London; Africa II – Devearts, Den Haag, The Netherlands; The Plantation Boy, 1st International Biennale of contemporary arts, Cartagena, Colombia and in 2013, Uche was part of the Art Connect Films, The Plantation Boy, Tiwani Contemporary, London.
Uche is an ex-resident and alumnus of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2011- 2012). He lives and works in Lagos as a photographer, founder/Director of the photography platforms – The Nlele Institute (TNI) and the Lagos OPEN RANGE. He is also the co-founder of the photography and video art night of projections – FOTOPARTY Lagos. Uche is also the curator GT Bank ART 635 Gallery
Co-sponsored by the African Studies Center, the Carolina Seminar for Global African Humanities, and the Carolina Seminar for Digital Preservation Issues for Artists’ Materials