Wandering in Chicago: Akinbode Akinbiyi in Conversation

Wandering in Chicago: Akinbode Akinbiyi in Conversation will look at Berlin-based photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi’s unique method of quietly wandering, looking, listening, and photographing. Kristin Taylor, Curator of Academic Programs and Collections at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, will speak with Akinbiyi about his work documenting cities across the globe and his time spent in Chicago and in North Lawndale in 2019. In line with the theme of the 2021 Biennial The Available City, led by Artistic Director David Brown, Akinbiyi’s work responds to and reflects how visitors and residents alike navigate social structures and spaces in the city. 

In the summer of 2019, Akinbode Akinbiyi visited Chicago for a month-long residency in Homan Square in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, co-hosted by the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his time in Chicago, along with leading public photography workshops, Akinbiyi created two sets of photographs collectively titled Easy Like Sunday Morning—North Lawndale: one sought to capture the essence of the North Lawndale neighborhood while the other looked at the larger city. After the close of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the collection of 40 prints making up Easy Like Sunday Morning—North Lawndale were acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Photography as part of their permanent collection. 

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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.

Kristin Taylor: Kristin Taylor is Curator of Academic Programs and Collections at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago. She curated the MoCP exhibitions Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency; Chicago Stories: Carlos Javier Ortiz and David Schalliol; and View Finder: Landscape and Leisure in the Collection, among others. She is the founder and host of podcast, Focal Point, a podcast that engages artists in discussion around the themes and processes in contemporary photography.

 

A photograph from Akinbiyi’s series “Easy Like Sunday Morning—North Lawndale” created during a Chicago Architecture Biennial residency in 2019. The pictured advertisement is from the collection of Tim Samuelson. Courtesy of Akinbode Akinbiyi. (Detail)

A photograph from Akinbiyi’s series “Easy Like Sunday Morning—North Lawndale” created during a Chicago Architecture Biennial residency in 2019. The pictured advertisement is from the collection of Tim Samuelson. Courtesy of Akinbode Akinbiyi.