George Osodi

Oil Rich Niger Delta

When “oil actually becomes a commodity”, “an incredible visual drama unfolds”, says George Osodi, a Nigerian Associated Press photographer and artist. This drama can be seen in every one of his photographs. Despite the difficult conditions that prevail in the Niger Delta, Osodi has been able to take aesthetically impressive pictures with his digital equipment, images that in no way play down the grim conditions of life but calmly reflect the urgency of the local situation. The series Oil Rich Niger Delta contains 200 digital photographs in all; the Goethe-Institut has selected 60 for its website.

Delta face. George Osodi, Oil Rich Niger Delta © George Osodi c/o Z Photographic ltd. Osodi’s repertoire includes classic photographic motifs: portraits with dramatic foregrounds and backgrounds, formally composed close-ups and rhythmically structured still lifes – the only difference being that these images are not taken in a studio but are photographs of men, women and children living their everyday lives against the backdrop of the oil industry. Osodi points his camera at simple boats lying close together at the edge of a swamp, showcasing as if coincidentally the beauty of the landscape; at heavily-armed and well-camouflaged MEND militants (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta), whose ammunition belts and tough clothing surfaces create patterns and structures; or at women collecting polluted water in colourful plastic bowls. There are no points of contact between the subjects of Osodi’s portraits and the profiteers – this is a “dual system”. There is no doubt in Osodi’s pictures as to who is responsible and what the causes are. This human-caused climate catastrophe is documented, warts and all.More ...
A young man at a protest rally on Isaac Adaka Boro day, which commemorates the late activist for minority rights in the Niger delta. Kalama, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, 2005. From the exhibition: Letzte Ölung Nigerdelta (Last Rites Niger Delta). Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.9.2013. Photo: George Osodi © Goethe-Institut

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© George Esiri
George Osodi (*1974 in Lagos/ Nigeria) works as a freelance photographer in the fields of photo journalism and artistic photo documentation. In the context of his work for local and international media from 1999 to 2008, his photographs were published, for example, in the New York Times, Time Magazine and Spiegel. In 2004, he was elected Fuji African Photojournalist of the Year. George Osodi’s works, which often critically deal with his home country Nigeria, have already been displayed in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Intempéries (Sao Paulo 2009) and documenta 12 (Kassel 2007). George Osodi lives in Lagos and London.