Artist Adéola Ọlágúnjú is a nominee in the category Still Images, Loud Voices, mentored by Tobias Zielony. Her project explores the subculture, counterculture, and minority variants of loosely organized gangs of young men known as Area Boys in Lagos, Nigeria, and the structures that sustain them.
Ọlágúnjú’s proposal for Forecast lends its title from a Nigerian Pidgin English term that describes someone rejected by their family or excluded from their societal context. It can also be used to describe anyone who behaves in socially or culturally unacceptable ways, doesn’t fit in, or transgresses against the popular norm.
Structural marginalization and unequally distributed social conditions have contributed to the growing numbers of Area Boys in the streets of Lagos. Their subcultural identity is intrinsically rooted in survival and belonging. But what is the psychological space of people living on the edge of society? How is the struggle of being and becoming reflected in the performance of their daily lives? These questions guide Ọlágúnjú’s research as she attempts to document the quotidian and the poetic spaces of these outsiders.
At the digital Forecast Forum, she will share a short video as well as photographic works from her longterm engagement with the men and the unofficial realms they navigate.
Here, she talks about her efforts to convey Area Boys through their own eyes and the process of trust building that this entails: