Bruno Barbey at Lagos Photo Festival
The 50th anniversary of the Biafran War is commemorated with an exhibition dedicated to Bruno Barbey’s photographs of the conflict
Magnum Photos is pleased to announce that Bruno Barbey’s body of work documenting the Biafran War has been selected as part of Lagos Photo Festival. For its eighth iteration, the international festival has chosen the theme “Regimes of Truth”, intending to provoke discussion around the pursuit of and presentation of truth in contemporary society.
Selected for his raw, honest and unmediated portrayal of the conflict, Bruno Barbey’s images will be exhibited in commemoration of the Biafran War’s 50th Anniversary.
The Biafran war (1967 – 1970), was a bloody civil conflict between Government of Nigeria and the secessionist state of Biafra. The newly formed Biafra state represented the secessionist aspirations of the Igbo people, who had sought autonomy from the Northern-dominated federal government following years of political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions that had preceded the civil war. The Niger Delta’s lucrative oil resources would also act as a catalyst in the conflict.
Following the Biafran declaration of independence by Biafran Colonel Ojukwu, the government placed an immediate embargo on all imports of goods into the region and led a swift invasion in the early hours of the 6th of July 1967. Directly behind the Federal Government descent, Bruno Barbey was able to document the invasion of southeastern Biafra towns, Nsukka and Ogoja.
A year later, the Federal Forces surrounded and successfully blockaded Biafran coastal oil facilities. Having been present at the port after the invasion, Barbey photographed the ensuing evacuation of refugees and the extent of international influence on the progress of the War during the military stalemate between ’68 and ’69.
Bruno Barbey (b. 1941) born in Morocco, has dual nationality – French and Swiss. He studied photography and graphic arts at the École des Arts et Métiers in Vevey, Switzerland. From 1961 to 1964 he photographed the Italians, considering them as protagonists of a small ‘theatrical world’, with the aim of capturing the spirit of a nation. Bruno Barbey began his relationship with Magnum Photos in 1964. He served as Magnum vice president for Europe in 1978/1979 and as President of Magnum International from 1992 to 1995. Over five decades Bruno Barbey has worked in all five continents and covered wars and conflicts in Nigeria, Vietnam, the Middle East, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Kuwait. His work has appeared in the world’s major magazines and he has published over 30 books.