The origins of the label “Yoruba photography”

Yoruba photography is not a new term. It is at least five decades old. The anthropologist Stephen Sprague as far back as 1979 used the label Yoruba photography in his seminal academic article on the Yoruba people and the unique ways they incorporated and used photography in their culture. Some 40 years before Sprague, the German Afrophile Diedrich Westerman singled out the adoption of photography by the Obas (Yoruba kings), in the late nineteenth century, as an example of a culturally specific use of the technology, stopping short of using the label Yoruba photography.

Gallery invite

Yoruba woman with baby. Photograph: © Olu Alabi c.1970s

Post 1979 all has remained relatively quiet on Yoruba photography. Many have danced around it, for example, looking at how Yoruba photographers have helped spread the technology and skill throughout West Africa. A lot needs to be done on locating Yoruba photography in the Yoruba land itself. This is for the simple reason of showing how cultures are able to adopt technologies, put their stamp on it and become part of a global network and economy.

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About GalleriaClic

This is the blog of Galleria Clic contemporary art online gallery edited by Depo Olukotun.
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