Uche Okpa-Iroha
Born in 1972, Enugu, Nigeria. Works in Lagos, Nigeria
Uche Okpa-Iroha is a photographer and visual artist. His first major project, Under Bridge Life, was published in 2008, and later awarded the Seydou Keïta Prize at the 10th Rencontres de Bamako in Mali in 2015. A significant project of Okpa-Iroha’s is The Plantation Boy (2012). Undertaken during the final year of Uche Okpa-Iroha’s two-year residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the project consisted of a series of images that examine the power structures of race and the hegemony of Western culture. For this project, Okpa-Iroha inserted himself into forty original film stills from Francis Ford Coppola’s cult gangster film The Godfather (1972). Through a process of digital reconstructions, the artist disrupts an iconic Hollywood image with the presence of an African man amongst the familial gangs of an Italian-American subculture. Addressing the politics of representation in Western classic cinema – a field that is marked by an omission of black bodies – Okpa-Iroha challenges stereotypical and subservient representations of African identity.
Uche Okpa-Iroha, Plantation Boy #1, (from the series The Plantation Boy), 2012, C-Type print , edition of 5, 56 x 100 cm / 22.05 x 39.37 in, Courtesy of the artist and TAFETA