Uchechukwu James Iroha
Enugu ~ Nigeria
Uchechukwu James Iroha is amongst the leaders of a new generation of Nigerian photographers. He received his Award for his striking work, for his stimulation of photography as a contemporary art form in Nigeria and for his support of young artists. James Iroha Uchechukwu is the leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers. By fusing the documentation of everyday reality with the creative language of imagery, Uchechukwu expands the possibilities of photography, pushing local art in new directions. His high quality images depict bodies in context, exploring the physicality of existence in the mix of cultures and influences that is 21st century Lagos, a megacity with urgent social issues. Fire, Flesh and Blood (2004), a group of images depicting open-air abattoirs, won the Elan Prize at the African Photography Encounters (2005). While documentary in inspiration, the series plunges the viewer into the chaos of colour, smoke and close-ups that are iconic in their intensity, capturing moments that are at once harsh, powerful and poetic. Uchechukwu was instrumental in founding the Depth of Field (DOF) collective, bringing six talented young photographers together to create strong exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. By combining their highly individual perspectives they offer insight into the complexity of their environment. Uchechukwu is also instrumental in mentoring a younger generation of photographers through workshops and seminars. James Iroha Uchechukwu is awarded for his striking photographic work, for his stimulation of photography as a contemporary Nigerian art form, and for his energetic support of young artists.