Open Eye Gallery presents works by George Osodi and Madiha Aijaz.
Nigerian Monarchs is a series of photographs that depicts the regional rulers in George Osodi’s home country of Nigeria. The images convey the different personalities of the rulers as well as the extravagant regalia that now stand as symbols of lost power: their role has been largely relegated to a ceremonial one with no constitutional powers. Celebrating the ethnic diversity and cultural complexity of Nigeria, the portraits also reference Europe’s colonialist past: some of the rulers’ ancestors were kings during times of slavery. Osodi hopes to redress their inaccurate depiction during the early days of colonialism by portraying the rulers in the stately and dignified manner that befits them.
Madiha Aijaz’s new film installation These Silences Are All the Words explores the public libraries of Karachi, Pakistan, against the backdrop of the city’s changing landscape. Focusing on librarians who have been working for years in traditional institutions such as Bedil Library, Aijaz tells the stories of an aging intelligentsia. The conversations with both librarians and the library’s users reflect on the shift of language from Urdu and its poetic and literary history to the ambition and individualism associated with English. Many of Aijaz’s works similarly offer a perspective on a country sharply divided along linguistic lines. Her work contextualises the complexity of the postcolonial state and its ambitions surrounding the English language, not only as the legacy of the Raj, but also as a tool for authority and social mobility. Using photography, film and text, Aijaz combines different media to present a city’s history from a literary point of view.
Madiha Aijaz is commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, Karachi Biennale and The Tetley, as part of the New North and South, in collaboration with Hospitalfield and ROSL Arts
Open Eye Gallery works with people to explore photography’s unique ability to connect, to tell stories, to inquire, to reflect on humanity’s past and present, and to celebrate its diversity and creativity. Founded in 1977, it is one of the UK’s leading photography spaces, and the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England