Uncovering the Past: Lagos Studio Archives Residency Explores the Legacy of Abi Morocco Photos

Uncovering the Past: Lagos Studio Archives Residency Explores the Legacy of Abi Morocco Photos

Lagos Studio Archives, a joint multidisciplinary practice belonging to Karl Ohiri and  Riikka Kassinen, will embark on a month-long residency in Lagos aiming to unearth the story of Abi Morocco Photos - a historic photographic studio. Their primary focus is on the studio's formative decade, marked by remarkable black-and-white studio portraits and vernacular photography from the 1970s. Their practice comprises visual arts, photography, and research.


Beyond research, LSA anticipates active engagement with Lagos' arts community throughout their residency. They view this period as an invaluable opportunity to immerse themselves in Lagos' ecosystem and explore related research materials within the city. During this residency, LSA will collaborate with the photographic couple behind Abi Morocco Photos, involving activities like editing, cataloguing, oral history collection, and vital insights for ongoing research.


Their flexible itinerary includes research trips with Abi Morocco Photos and visits to institutions like CCA Lagos for relevant materials. LSA also seeks assistance in finding Nigerian photographic archive literature and is open to organic networking opportunities during their stay. Their residency is generously supported by Autograph.

What is the current focus of your creative practice?

Our current practice explores the multiple layers and narratives that are held within the photograph, and how images can be recontextualized to create new meanings over time. We are also interested in ideas around ownership, authorship, and intended context in relation to the public and the private.


Playtime, (1970) (L). Woman Holding Curtains, (1979) (R). Courtesy of Abi Morocco Photos and Lagos Studio Archives


What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?

We were drawn to the G.A.S residency as it provides international artists the opportunity to live and work in Lagos. Being located in Lagos during our stay will allow us to develop our project and ongoing research into Lagosian studio photographers and the local community they serve. Through the residency platform we hope to share our practice with local and international audiences, utilising our support from G.A.S and the resources they have put in place for artists, we hope to make lasting professional connections that can help us achieve the project's future goals.


Girl with Crossed Hands (1979) (L), Headshot #31, (1979) (R). Courtesy of Abi Morocco Photos and Lagos Studio Archives


Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?

The residency opportunity will provide us with the necessary space and time to work on our project. As the residency is based in Lagos and the project material originates from Lagos, undergoing a site-specific residency will allow us to extract fundamental research and local engagement that will be invaluable for the project. Through our participation, we hope to create a base for future opportunities and collaborations.


Little Girl in Wig, (circa 1975) (L), Man in White Suit (1979) (R). Courtesy of Abi Morocco Photos and Lagos Studio Archives


About Lagos Studio Archives

Lagos Studio Archives is an ongoing curatorial and cultural preservation project by Karl Ohiri (UK/NIG) and Riikka Kassinen (FIN/UK), consisting of thousands of film negatives documenting Lagos studio portraiture and vernacular photography from the 1970s to post-millennium.

The project started in 2015 when Ohiri discovered that many archives were being destroyed, discarded, and stored away in humid conditions by a generation of photographers who were part of a shift from analog to digital photography. Working with local photographers Ohiri started acquiring the endangered negatives over a number of years in an attempt to ensure that this precious cultural heritage was not lost over time.

Through the manifestation of appropriated works, curated exhibitions, and publications, Lagos Studio Archives explores the complex relationship between ownership, authorship, and intended context whilst further expanding dialogues around West African photography, culture, and the legacies of the diaspora.


Portrait of Karl Ohiri and Riikka Kassinen. Image courtesy of Lagos Studio Archives.


About Autograph

Established in 1988, Autograph’s mission is to champion the work of artists who use photography and film to highlight questions of race, representation, human rights and social justice. Through doing so, we invite people to explore the creative and critical power of visual representation, in shaping our understanding of ourselves and of others. autograph.org.uk



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