Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty

June 1 – 16, 2019

Alliance Française at Mike Adenuga Centre
9 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria

Starting in the early 1990s, Nollywood has quickly gained worldwide relevance as the world’s second most prolific film industry (almost 2,000 titles released annually) ahead of Hollywood and behind Bollywood with revenues topping $600 million annually. Historically, film in Africa had a European sensibility with parochial scenes laboriously captured on expensive celluloid, owing to the colonial funders. Nollywood, in contrast is characterized by inadependent cheap and quick filmmaking, capitalizing on the falling prices of digital recording equipment and meeting the demands of a continent for authentic stories that reflect the reality on the ground. An entrepreneurial rags-to-riches story, its producers are private individuals getting little or no assistance from government who make and distribute film across the continent despite infrastructure deficiencies and barriers to trade.

In October 2014, artist Iké Udé returned to Lagos, Nigeria, after three decades away, and took photographs of 64 Nollywood personalities. Udé captured an impressive cross section of the industry including renowned screen icon Genevieve Nnaji, veteran actor Richard Mofe-Damijo, established actor/director Stephanie Okereke, maverick filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, as well as the next generation of rising stars. The objective of this project is to celebrate these African celebrities in the timeless, classic, elegant style the artist is known for. Udé has also created a grand group portrait of all 64 subjects, The School of Nollywood, inspired by Raphael’s The School of Athens, 1509. A publication featuring a forward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and an introduction by Chigozie Obioma will accompany the exhibition. Like The School of Athens, The School of Nollywood measures 16 ft 5 in x 25 ft 3 in (500 cm x 770 cm).

Exhibition

Starting in the early 1990s, Nollywood (Nigeria’s vibrant film sector) has quickly gained worldwide relevance as the world’s second most prolific film industry (over 1,000 titles released each year) ahead of Hollywood and behind Bollywood with revenues topping $600 million annually.

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Book

This lavishly illustrated book was published in October, 2016 by Milan-based Skira and features 64 individual portraits of Nollywood personalities representing a cross section of the industry.

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Documentary

Nollywood, a term coined to describe Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, has emerged into prominence as the second largest producer of film content worldwide. In this documentary directed by renowned portrait photographer and artist, Iké Udé, over 40 Nollywood personalities

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Iké Udé

Iké Udé was born in Nigeria in the 1960s and has lived in New York City, New York in the US for over 3 decades during which time he has earned the reputation as a master portraitist. Udé gives conceptual aspects of performance and representation a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art.

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