Q&A with Kadara Enyeasi

Blog / By Christina Månsson
Photo by Kadara Enyeasi  Bird, 2014,  Red Hook Labs Photo by Kadara Enyeasi Bird, 2014, Red Hook Labs

No vintage anymore, UNSEEN shows exclusively photographic work that was made over the last three years. Each year brings new galleries, photographers and conversations. For Red Hook Labs from New York, it's their second UNSEEN. This year they feature works by Kadara Enyeasi, Nadine Ijewere, and Kyle Weeks. All three are photographers to watch.

Although, Kadara Enyeasi is not present at UNSEEN, he is willing to answer a few questions over the email to ZAM.

Enyeasi earned a degree in architecture from the University of Lagos, but was already drawn to photography as a medium when he was a teenager. It would be deceptive to label him solely as a photographer, he is rather a multidisciplinary artist whose creativity spans various materials and fields.

In the Red Hook booth at UNSEEN his self-portraits from the Hidden Encounters series are on display.

Your work emanates a highly creative mind. When did you realize that you are an artist?

I only realized I was an artist when I had my first one-on-one chat with Duro Olowu. We were talking about my work so far and he asked what my profession was. I replied, "I am a photographer". He was taken aback and went on to explain how it mattered how one viewed himself and the medium employed. It was that moment I realized I was an artist using photography as a medium for my expression.

What is the central idea of your work?

I don't believe there is a central idea to my work. Maybe a central subject which has always been the black male body. The work comments on body politics and representation but these ideas are only integral. I work with moods: the way I feel while producing influences the resulting work.

How did you become involved with photography?

I became involved in the business of taking photographs the minute I was handed a camera as a teenager. I began taking photographs of my sister for her portfolio and it then evolved to taking self-portraits when I  to explored my body as a microcosm in understanding the world around me.

A picture is not always worth a thousand words, either by clichés or a biased viewer. How do you work around this?

I'm not sure I know where this question is going so I'll just work around it. Lol.

What role does identity play in your work?

Identity plays little role in my work. Most of the images are produced through the form of performance. Performance on my part being the photographer orchestrating moods and form, and on the part of the model being a puppet, complying to my needs.

Is there one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos? Do you remember your very first shoot?

I don't think so. I have enjoyed the journey so far and the growth that came with it. The speed of learning is not so important here but how well you arrive at the finish point if there is one. Aha! The more reason why regret is not relevant to any journey.

What kind of gear do you use?

Digital and Film. I use a Fujifilm X-T1 and a Leica X, A polaroid GOOSE (600SE) and a Rollei 35s, but with hopes of shooting with a Hasselblad 500c/m and the Leica M-D Typ 262. I prefer camera how it allows me to make my image without distractions and unnecessary fiddling with buttons. That's the reason why I choose the brands I shoot with.

If someone, who would you say has paved the way for you as an artist? Inspired you as a photographer?

As an artist, Le Corbusier. Lakin Ogunbanwo inspires me as a photographer.

What feeds your creative soul?

Music and literature. These days, I am watching movies from directed by masters; Godard, Lynch, Lanthimos, Kurosawa and the likes.

In what state of mind are you now and what kind of work will that bring?

I am currently focusing on painting and being a curator under the mentorship of Azu Nwagbogu at African Artists' Foundation. I am ecstatic about the future but with restraint.

How can our readers stay updated about your work?

I have an Instagram account @enyeasi.k and a web portfolio will be up in a few months.

Photo by Kadara Enyeasi, Self Portrait III, 2014, Red Hook Labs