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Lagos is a moloch. According to what estimate you go by the Nigerian capital is home to between 17.5 and almost 21 million people – and it is growing at a breakneck speed. It is here that Emeka Ogboh finds the raw materials for his sound collages, videos, and installations. Equipped with a microphone and camera he roams the city's streets capturing sounds, which he assembles into atmospheric soundscapes, sometimes combining them with music. The local danfo and molue busses, in particular, feature regularly in his work.
These distinctive small yellow busses with their black side stripes are like the red blood cells in the city's circulation. Transporting people and goods, they are places of encounter and drift. They form a semi-official, often improvised but absolutely essential logistical infrastructure. In Ogboh's Lagos Soundscapes we hear busses sounding their horns, passengers' conversations, bottles being opened, people on their phones, street vendors loudly hawking their wares in the chaos of the transfer stops and stations - all punctuated by the voices of drivers announcing bus stops and city districts, delivering what Ogboh calls a “verbal map” of the city.
His own works function in a similar way. The field recordings measure the city according to its noises, allowing the sounds of everyday functioning to fuse into an audio portrait. Ogboh's objective is not to create ambient backgrounds but to map and above all to document a city in the throes of rapid change.
The artist often presents these sound collages in public space in other cities, such as Cologne or Helsinki. The various sounds of the cities collapse and the chaos of Lagos tears into the orderliness of the European cities, prompting historical connections as the sound of former colonies returns to the continent of the colonisers.
Often what emerges from the cacophony of voices and sounds in Ogboh's soundscapes is a confrontation with economic realities, the flow of commodities, the everyday struggle to survive. This economic dimension is most pronounced in the multimedia installation Oshodi Stock Exchange (2014). Accompanied by a soundtrack that Ogboh developed together with Berlin composer Kristian Kowatsch, a list of commodities found in the unofficial street-vendor economy flows past on an LED display like a stock exchange index.
Ogboh's video works such as disconnect I – IV or Loco-Metta generally show simple street scenes, accompanied by music and sound recordings of the city. The image's mirror axis is continually folding in on itself, creating movement in two directions at once. There is no simple linear access, let alone any real conclusion – the city is fractal.


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Events by DAAD
Neues Werk (2014)

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