“Tear my Bra” or when Nollywood hits t...

“Tear my Bra” or when Nollywood hits the Arles International Photography Festival.

The Arles International Photography Festival set to open next week will be placed under the sign of eclecticism and renewal ! From the 4th of July to the 25th of September, the 47th edition of the festival expands its horizons and is opening up to the influences of African cultures. Something new on the program this year : “Africa Pop”, a sequence which will celebrate the dynamism of Africa through several exhibitions like “Swinging Bamako” , and “Tear my bra”, an exhibition revisiting the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, and its influence on African photography.

Ike Udé©, “The school of Nollywood”, 2016.

The 47th Arles’ Photography Festival will be held from July 4 to September 25, in the cities of Marseille, Nimes and Avignon. With a specificity this year : Africa! Under the eclectic leadership of Sam Stourdzé , the festival will celebrate the continent through a sequence, “Africa Pop”, which includes three exhibitions revolving around African Culture. “Swinging Bamako” will recounts the saga of Mali’s Maravillas, a group of young musicians who left for Havana in 1960, during the Cold War. “Syrcas”, curated by artist Maud Sulter, will commemorate the genocide of Black European during the Holocaust. And finally “Tear my bra“, an exhibition inspired by Nollywood, will decipher the impact of Nollywood on contemporary African photography, and visual storytelling in Africa.

Drama, fantasy, folklore … all adjectives perfectly illustrating the frenzied creativity of Nigerian cinema. Creativity combined with an unwavering resilience praised by Azu Nwagbogu, founder and director of the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), an organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria, that supports the artistic scene in Africa. “Nollywood is one of the strongest, exciting, and innovative thing coming from Nigeria lately. This industry is born of itself without outside contributions, with little support and little budget. Yet, we can compare the influence of Nollywood on African culture to that of the industry of Hollywood on American culture”, he explains in an interview with Le Monde. “This is why we have chosen to represent Nollywood by its visual impact rather than viedo-reporting. We traveled through Africa and we have seen how this aesthetic has implications in West Africa, South Africa”…

Uche Okpa-Iroha©, “Figure of Fear”, from the The Plantation Boy series. Courtesy of the artist.

Nollywood is the colloquial name for Nigeria’s booming commercial film industry. A cross-cultural phenomenon, with thousands of films being produced each year and billions of dollars being circulated, Nollywood films have made a big impact on film history and on African contemporary visual culture. While limited-budgets, poorly rendered fake blood, and bizarre manifestations of the classic ‘boy meets girl’ plot are the trademark trifecta of Nollywood films, the audience for these productions is continuously growing. The success of this industry illustrates that there is not only a demand, but also an affinity and perhaps even a contribution to the globalization of aesthetics, particularly those of West Africa. The title of the exhibition is a tribute to traditional Nollywood titles, at times completely ambiguous and dramatic.
Exhibition curator: Azu Nwagbogu assisted by Maria Pia Bernardoni.

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