Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ed Kashi at HOST Gallery

Continuing until April 3, an excellent exhibition of Ed Kashi's photographs from the Niger Delta is currently on at the HOST Gallery in Shoreditch.

The exhibition, titled "Curse of the Black Gold", accompanies the release of Kashi's book of the same name. Kashi skillfully captures the hardship of life in the Niger Delta. Pictures of displaced villagers, their fishing-based livelihoods ruined, are juxtaposed alongside others of glistening rigs that pump up the oil that has caused so much devastation. Even more dramatic are Kashi's photos of Port Harcourt's Trans Amadi Slaughterhouse, the billowing smoke from burning tyres on which thousands of animal carcasses are roasted each day forming a harrowing vision of Hell.

A series of events last week coincided with the launch of the exhibition, including a symposium at the LSE on Thursday where a number of experts working in the Niger Delta discussed the militancy, corruption and whether acting President Goodluck Jonathan could build on the current amnesty or whether the situation there was likely to regress to more fighting.

Photo: Shell Umbrella Girl, Okrika, Nigeria 2006 (Ed Kashi).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Changes to this blog

Sharp-eyed readers of this blog may have noticed some changes afoot here. Such as the inclusion of photographs. And the addition of new posts. Okay, it has been over a year now since I added the photos, so this change can hardly be described as recent. And though the difference between a dead blog and a live one is a big one, I've not exactly been prolific in my posting.

The point is I'm gradually beginning to tackle the task of transforming this blog from a repository for some stuff that I have written into one that tracks current events and will hopefully be resource for people interested in the region. Extractive industry is what I'm interested in, and that's what I'll mostly focus on. In the years since my trip to Africa I've largely written about infrastructure finance, and I hope to put that to good effect here.

That's the plan anyway, it does rather create the problem that a blog called "Marcus Bensasson in West Africa" might flounder if Marcus Bensasson is actually in London. That's why I stopped updating it in the first place.

Well, I hope to go back to west Africa for another trip soon, though right now it is still just an aspiration. I may eventually fold this blog into a new one with a different title, and looser geographical remit. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.