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Akinbode Akinbiyi

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Akinbode Akinbiyi
Courtesy Akinbode Akinbiyi
Initially rooted in the fields of architecture and journalism, the photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi struck out on the proverbial artist’s path with a focus on sprawling megacities, especially those on the African continent. He wandered the highways and byways of places like Addis Ababa, Cairo, Johannesburg, Kano, and Lagos, searching for moments of pure serendipity. In 2017 he was invited to Documenta 14, which prompted him to move toward a broader narrative, expressed in the title of the images presented there: Passageways, Involuntary Narratives, and the Sound of Crowded Spaces. These images came from urban locations as disparate as Athens, Berlin, Lagos, and Philadelphia, and they sought to uncover the spiritual undercurrents that define our everyday meanderings. Today Akinbiyi continues to document major cities as well as smaller locales, including Bamako, Mali; Cotonou, Benin; Dakar, Senegal; Durban, South Africa; Ibadan, Nigeria; Khartoum, Sudan; Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Maputo, Mozambique.

Born 1946, Oxford, England, United Kingdom; lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Biennial Project

Easy Like Sunday Morning— North Lawndale, 2019
Inkjet prints

Commissioned by the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial

Akinbode Akinbiyi documents urban landscapes while meandering the streets and highways, especially on the African continent. Easy Like Sunday Morning—North Lawndale resulted from the artist’s monthlong residency in Homan Square in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, cohosted by the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Throughout the month, Akinbiyi met many students, artists, activists, and neighbors, and hosted three open photography workshops. Here, a set of photographs shows exclusively North Lawndale, while a second set shows other neighborhoods, establishing subtle parallels and dialogues. Akinbiyi sought to capture North Lawndale’s essence through his unique method of quietly wandering, looking, listening, and photographing. With each daily walk, he began to understand local everyday life and perceive, in his words, “the coming together of the invisible threads woven by the community.”

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