Photograph by David Uzochukwu

David Uzochukwu’s ‘Pluton’ Celebrates Nigerian Creatives

The Austrian image auteur David Uzochukwu has gone far with his surrealist depictions. At the age of only 20, he has photographed the likes of FKA twigs, Pharrell Williams and Ibeyi. Haze, softness, a photo essay lurks around every corner.

His latest photographic exploration takes the shape of ‘Pluton’ a celebration of the creatives of Nigeria who are shifting perspectives with their art. ‘Pluton’ captures the likenesses of dancers, activists, models, filmmakers and unravels the unique qualities of each individual.

Often visiting Nigeria due to his connections to the soil (via his father’s nationality) which shapes his dual identity – marks his visual expression. Taking its name from the rock form that is created from hot magma rising to the earth’s crust and cooling to a crystal form, ‘Pluton’ becomes an allegory for the photographic ensemble. The artists act as catalysts for change and crystal elements in their own right. “They all share this energy of having to make things happen themselves,” he says in an interview with Wepresent. However, the allegory is a visual one too – soot, dust, smoke, heat – dominate the frames.

Sensitive to his own positionality he shares with Wepresent “I have an Austrian passport; I grew up in Europe, I mean literally, I’m an outsider coming in.” Similarly, he was cautious about stepping in and gaining from these individuals and their narratives. His ancestry did not grant him free reign on the African continent – that has historically been appropriated, erased, misrepresented and homogenized. “I’ve never thought more about the implications, on a social level, than I have working on this project,” he expresses to Wepresent.

Awareness.. respect. Thoughtfulness becomes the pillars of a practice. A thought provoking body of work which can be sombre at time yet fierce and raw in honestly featuring artists in a beautiful splendour.

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