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Pushing Boundaries through Taylor’s lens


Guests at the opening of Pushing the Boundaries, at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.

Walking into Segun Taylor’s show without any information about the event is sure to create suspense, which perhaps, is not what the photographer intended.

Titled, Pushing the Boundaries, the show, which held at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, will need a visitor to see as many as 10 or even more pieces before realising that the works are from a contemporary photographer.

Sceneries that are clearly uncommon with locations not immediately known and produced in monochrome, coalesce into suggestions that the works belong deep into the last century.

And with the name of the photographer thinly inscribed on each of the exhibits, the archival perception of the pieces increases.

Adding to this is lack of provenance information on the photographs.

In fact, the curatorial presentation suggests that the works were possibly reproduced from emulsion film of pre-digital era.

And with an inscription, Yesteryears, you need no further conviction that the photographs were taken from the archive of a colonial era photographer.

The works include, human activities and locations that speak so much about old fashion designs and architecture of, possibly, mid-20th century.

However, changing that perception is Eyo masquerade, which is placed at the extreme of the gallery space.

The work reveals the photographer belongs to the contemporary age, despite working under a brand name she calls ‘Yesteryears’.

A photographer with print media background, Taylor actually practised as a photojournalist at a particular poin in time.

And if she had shot the works on display, clearly, they are not of colonial era as perceived.

With monochrome as a signature and working under Yesteryears as brand name, Taylor, actually, has her focus well thought out in the documentary photography genre.

Her lens and shutters move like the tools of an archaeologist by excavating rare sceneries, particularly from the rural areas of Nigeria.

Among such archival imageries are Epe, Lagos market scene of fish at riverside; a hilly scene on the way to Okene, Kogi State; and a bar beach scene of scavengers who collect debris at the shore.

Most of the works, she insists, “were shot between 10 and 15 years ago.”

Whatever Taylor’s exhibition lacks in rich curatorial contents, she makes up for that deficiency in the technique of presentation.

In fact, Taylor boasts that her presentation in aluminium gave rise to the theme.

“It is Pushing the Boundaries in the sense that I printed on steel plate instead of paper or canvas,” she reveals.

Shown as Yesteryears, a coinage she describes as “my brand name,” the series is in its fourth season.

Taylor grew up partly in Warri, Delta State and Lagos. She was a pioneer student and the first head girl of Maryland Comprehensive School.

Taylor later proceeded to the United Kingdom, where she qualified as a Television producer and director.

She later went to the school of photography, where she specialised in still life, portrait and scenery.

Returning to Nigeria, she worked as a photojournalist with the defunct Quality Magazine, a title in the Newswatch Communication Limited and later with the defunct Classique Magazine.

Taylor started her Yesteryears Season exhibition in 2012; and has successfully done the first, second and third seasons, while Season Four ended last month.

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