As the first professional photographer of Nigerian birth, Jonathan Adagogo Green (1873-1905), can be seen as an important voice for Nigeria’s early modernist art movement. Moreover, his photographic work reveals that he was straddling two worlds, one, his own as an IbaniIjo young man born into an elite trading family, and , the other, as the chief photographer for the British as they lay the foundation for the newly formed colony of Nigeria.
This talk looks at Green’s photographs from these two perspectives. It does so, first, by laying out the various ways in which the British utilized Green’s photographs to promote and justify their colonizing mission, and, then, by showing how his photographs documented and promoted local Ijo history and culture for the benefit of his people, using an early modernist vision to do so.
Lisa Aronson is Associate Professor Art History at Skidmore College. Her scholarship has focused on African textiles and trade, issues of gender in African art, and most recently, contemporary African art and African photography. Her work on the early Nigerian photographer, Jonathan Adagogo Green, funded through a Getty Collaborative Research Grant, will lead to a jointly authored book on the subject. Recently, she co-curated an exhibition, and co-authored a catalogue, of contemporary African art with the Tang Museum Director, John Weber titled Environment and Object in Recent African Art at Tang from February-July, 2011, the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University (September-December, 2011) and the Middlebury College Art Museum (January-April, 2012).