Selected images from the Unbelonging series, 2017
The photos of Nigerian-born photographer Osaretin Ugiagbe document the beauty and sorrows witnessed during a life split between the surging Bronx streets and the half-built flyovers of Lagos, Nigeria (population 20 million strong and growing). In 2002, the then 16-year-old Ugiagbe left Nigeria for the Bronx, joining his father who had already emigrated to the US. Fifteen years later, he maintains an identity firmly planted in both worlds.
In his black and white photos, many taken without looking through the camera, he reacts to light and shadow, to the faces and bodies around him, both in the Bronx and in trips back to Nigeria.
He crafts his images through the inventive use of light, focusing on poignant and compelling themes of displacement and dislocation, and a surging, scrambling humanity looking for something better. Or sometimes just looking. The exhibited photos express Ugiagbe's individual path, but also reflect the larger framework of the struggle for cultural identity--unbelonging in the place left, not belonging at the point of arrival.