Tolani Alli’s engaging lens in 2021
No doubts, 2021 opened with one of the biggest promises of the new decade, especially with the sudden appearance of vaccines, and the assumption that the world would return to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The vaccines, in deed, saved lives, but human passions, hopes and fears did their usual work to create a year that was everything but calm, and ended with the new variant upending plans and leaving the world in the throes of a new lockdown.
This year has also underscored the special communicative power of the image, as well as the risks taken and hardship endured by photographers to show the world what they have captured.
Photographers were everywhere to do their work: to bear witness firsthand. Even as some people retreated to working from home, or keeping their distance, these journalists did not have that option.
Tolani Alli, in an attempt to create a curatorial marvel, explores a visual story of the past 365 days in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office.
Through her lens, you are able to see and better understand the vice president’s engaging schedule.
With myriad of images that capture the Vice President, she is everywhere conversing with the lens: from the hospital to the office, and homes of bereaved families and mourning parents, she represents the year’s events.
But this isn’t just “a collection of pretty photographs,” says Alli, but immersive experiences with the lens.
“2021 was a wild one and I’m sure everyone has a story that attests to this. Obviously, the elephant in the room — COVID-19 — kept us adjusting and seeking answers to newly thrown up challenges from social to economic, political and personal spheres,” she says.
Alli, however, adds: “One big take away for me though as 2021 peeled off day by day is the importance of showing up — of trying, striving, and staring adversity in the face.”
She says, “one way I choose to practice this was through my decision to live fearlessly.”
According to the photojournalist, “While I penned this idea down in many conspicuous places where I could see it year-round, little did I realise that it would turn out to be the only way to live and survive in 2021. From striving to beat the limitations — natural and man-made — that stood in the way of reaching my goals and getting my work done, to experiences that were entirely new to me in both scale and scope, that the thought of even embarking on them sent cold shivers down my spine, I realised that in a time of uncertainty such as this, life rewards the fearless — the ones that wake up every morning and say “I will get this done regardless”.
As a professional, this year has also been a painful learning and relearning process.”
Here are some of the most memorable images from her ouvres.