By Victor Ehikhamenor

Pick a fresh onion, admire it and familiarize yourself with its splendor. But don’t drop the onion, peel the outer layer. Don’t stop, keep peeling. That’s what one should do to fully understand Eloghosa Osunde, a young writer and photographer’s works. This is what I have done over the few months after first encountering her photography and her writing. 

At first glance, one is tempted to think of familiar and mundane images, an everyday living that has gotten too recognizable. But a second look reveals the depth and the unfamiliarity that is layered in these carefully chosen subjects and circumstances. Eloghosa is not a photographer that sees with a camera. She sees with her natural eyes and consciousness first, before employing the camera to freeze and freshen that ever fleeting moment in life. 

As a photographer who is also a writer, she accompanies images with text. This is not a direct interpretation of the image that is accompanied by text. It is not meant to decipher the image before you. The words that go with her photography are a nucleus that tug at the heart of the images, like a mother standing with her daughter on a wedding day. In one of her photos of two kids, probably friends, walking together in a rather deserted street, are these words :

For some of us, 
some secrets were speeding vehicles with no brakes
on a highway 
And our childhoods just did not move out of the way fast enough.”

At once you think she is talking about the image, but another read shows it is beyond the two kids in the frame, but our entire childhood. This is done so carefully that nothing is upended. 

A second image shows a young woman in full stride. Her clothing and demeanor don’t suggest affluence but Eloghosa captures her elegance and humanizes her in a striking manner, accompanied with these words:

Womanhood, like other gated estates, 
can be entered into 
by cutting corners and jumping fences.

God is still showing me that I am not a thief, 
I can enter through the door.

Eloghosa writes like she photographs, that is taking the ordinary extra-ordinary heights. She picks her words carefully like an apple buyer searching for the greenest and the freshest. Her writing leaves tastes in your mouth and sometimes drips coldness on your spine. 

She is a fearless storyteller, taking on some societal issues most tend to avoid. Her bold writing is glaring in on of her most celebrated short stories, “Shapes”, edited and recommended by Chimamanda Adichie.  Some of the paragraphs are standalone that needs no accompaniment, like this: “He burnt her with a cigarette. He cut her hair in her sleep. He threw her down the stairs. She stayed. He brought home a third wife. He threw her across the room. She stayed. He took her favourite clothes outside and burnt them. He locked her outside the house. He threatened to leave if she didn’t lose weight. She starved, and stayed.“

Her latest body of works brings to mind at once Salvador Dali. They are digitally distorted coloured photographs that seem surreal yet conversant. First, she photographs the streets of Lagos that have been photographed over the centuries. Then, she brings out a certain newness and freshness that signifies the new dawn of a new artist. 

Eloghosa is melting reality, distorting lives beautifully and saying in one bold statement that what we see is not really what we see. Lives on the streets have stories that can not be accessed by a passing glance. With a click at a time, a sentence at a time, this young writer and photographer is documenting lives in an unforgettable manner. 

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