Urban Cadence tells the multifaceted stories of two urban environments—Lagos, Nigeria and Johannesburg, South Africa—experienced through the artistic expressions of photography and video. African cities are growing rapidly, and these two cities have experienced this growth in diverse yet fascinating ways: the first as a mega-city, the latter as a center of industrial development. The street scenes in this exhibition represent the complex narratives of these urban areas: tales of migration, labor, desperation, success, hope, and imagination among others.

Uche Okpa-Iroha, American Dream
Uche Okpa-Iroha (Nigerian, b. 1972), American Dream (Under Bridge Life series), 2008, digital print on Dibond / aluminum, 80 x 60 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist.

Here, these stories are woven together with the theme of cadence, which speaks to the rhythms of life. Cadence is the gait of the artist or inhabitants of the city as they move through urban spaces. Cadence is a visual rhythm an artist creates when telling the city’s myriad stories. At the same time, it is a musical metaphor that artists draw on to speak about their images or their photographic practice. Whether sobering, humorous, or unexpected, the visuals of Urban Cadence challenge us to explore what it means to be urban in Africa in the early 21st century.

Artists include: Akinbode Akinbiyi, Akintunde Akinleye, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Jude Anogwih, Jodi Bieber, Donna Kukama, Sabelo Mlangeni, Uche Okpa-Iroha, and Jo Ractliffe.

Urban Cadence was initiated by TECAA (Touring Exhibitions of Contemporary Artists of Africa) and made possible through the advocacy, generosity and leadership of TECAA’s principals Diane Frankel and Cynthia Plevin. The Gund Gallery at Kenyon College shepherded the project’s completion, tour and exhibition catalogue. Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are sponsored, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.