“This is what hatred did” is the lapidary phrase that ends Amos Tutuola’s novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, published in 1954. Tutuola was obliged to leave Nigeria owing to the violent reactions the novel provoked. The phrase is also the starting point of the version photographer Cristina de Middel has made of the tenebrous story in the streets of Makoko, a watery slum in the city of Lagos in Nigeria.
In Makoko, spirits coexist with human beings, who are unable to escape, strange rites are an everyday occurrence, and the atmosphere provides the setting for a phantasmagoric tale. The book that has resulted from the project combines the original story of the Nigerian writer with the reality of a country suffering under the heavy burden of African stereotypes. De Middel plays with the double narrative offered by text and image and the different layers of meaning produced by their union. A grey zone between documentary and fiction, which seeks to cast light on the reality of an ever more inscrutable continent.
As recommended by Ralph Rugoff, Hayward Gallery Director