In this first episode of Chobi Mela O podcast series, Natasha Ginwala launches into an extensive and intimate dialogue with Akinbode Akinbiyi, which they consider as a continuing one. They speak about rhythm, place, time, and atmosphere encompassing the poetic phrases in Akinbiyi’s retrospective show Six Songs, Swirling Gracefully in the Taut Air, at Martin Gropius Bau curated by Ginwala in 2020. Ginwala refers to Katherine May's idea of ‘Wintering’ to describe Akinbiyi’s approach to photography, while the latter delicately discusses taking/making images of ‘desertedness’, amidst the extreme shift in pace & momentum during the ongoing pandemic. As the conversation delves deeper into such ideas, important topics of the practice of photography like the weight of the camera, substance of race and the role of contact sheets are examined. While they discuss Akinbiyi’s profound and ubiquitous ‘diagonality’ breathing in four decades of his work, the conversation constantly anchors itself into the anecdotes of everyday, happenstance, serendipity, and hope.

For more information on Akinbode Akinbiyi’s retrospective show, please visit here .

Natasha Ginwala is a curator and writer. She is an Associate Curator at Gropius Bau (Berlin, Germany) and Artistic Director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale 2021 (South Korea) with Defne Ayas. Ginwala curated several noteworthy exhibitions, biennials, and art events around the world, e.g., Contour Biennale 8 ‘Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium’ (Belgium, 2017), COLOMBOSCOPE Festival ‘Sea Change’ (Sri Lanka, 2019), ‘Hello World. Revising a Collection’ at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Germany, 2018), ‘My East is Your West’ at the 56th Venice Biennale (Italy, 2015) and many others. She was also the Curatorial Advisor of Documenta 14 (Germany, 2017). Ginwala writes on contemporary art and visual culture and has contributed to numerous publications.

Photo credit: Mathias Völzke

Akinbode Akinbiyi is a British-Nigerian photographer, writer, traveler, and wanderer. He was born in Oxford (England), grew up in Lagos and England, and studied literature and English in Nigeria, England, and Germany. Akinbode began to take/make photographs in the mid 1970s as a self-taught photographer. He is a street photographer but not in a conventional way. He takes pictures of the ‘everydaylifeness’ of people on the streets. Akinbode’s primary focus is the rapidly growing and changing megacities around the world like Bamako, Berlin, Cairo, Chicago, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos, and others. Serendipity is one of the main elements the photographer tries to capture in his photos. Akinbode’s works have been shown at major exhibitions and biennials in Tokyo, Paris, Philadelphia, Johannesburg, and Havana.

Photo Credit: Stefanie Kulisch