Akinbode Akinbiyi. The Measure of City Pathways Some Photographs of Lagos, Bamako, Johannesburg

8 dec - 4 apr 2021

British photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi sees himself as a wanderer, always curious about what might be hiding just around the next street corner. For the last thirty years, he has been wandering up one street and down the next through Africa’s largest cities, diligently searching for the manifestations of life in the everyday world. He “constructs” his photographs by showing the different layers that make up the city. He waits for just the right moment to capture a story with his film camera. With the help of his inner voice, Akinbiyi experiences and captures cities that are in the process of redefining themselves through constant transformation, development, and growth. The photographs in the exhibition at Västerås Konstmuseum portray everyday life in three large cities on the African continent: Lagos in Nigeria, Johannesburg in South Africa, and Bamako in Mali.

In Akinbiyi’s photographs we find a recurring interest in signs, graffiti, spray-painted comments, the work of other photographers, and traffic-congested intersections. Hearing is a central aspect of his photographic process. He listens in cities and remarks, “Our ears perceive more layers of an event than our eyes alone can see.” These photographs capture the cities’ varying pace of life, their intimate moments, conversations among people, the constant presence of minibuses, and the commerce that never sleeps. They reveal underlying social structures, striving to expose the hidden and illuminate the invisible in everyday life.

Akinbode Akinbiyi was born in 1946 in Oxford, England to Nigerian parents. He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, the largest city on the continent. In the 1970s, he moved to Germany to pursue a PhD in literary criticism in Heidelberg. For the last thirty years, he has been based in Berlin, but returns regularly to the streets of his youth in Lagos. Akinbiyi’s photographs are exhibited all over the world—from the Chicago Architecture Biennial of 2019 to the Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel. He just concluded a solo show at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin. The exhibition at Västerås Konstmuseum is Akinbode Akinbiyi’s first solo show in Sweden.

The exhibition is curated by Ulrika Flink.