Persons with albinism (PWA) are classified among the vulnerable groups in society and rarely do they make the spotlight.
Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, a Nigerian social activist photographer, has, however, decided to change this narrative by hosting an exhibition in their honour.
Tagged ‘White Ebony’, the exhibition features 20 thought-provoking photographs which capture the complexities of life that persons with albinism face daily.
It is currently being showcased at the Temple Muse, Lagos, to support the recognition and protection of persons with albinism in commemoration of the annual International Albinism Awareness Day, which comes up on June 13.
Guests at the exhibition, including the CEO of Temple Muse, Avinash Wadhwani, described the work as a powerful example of art for social change.
Mrs Ayeni-Babeko worked closely with members of The Albino Foundation in Lagos, and after in-depth interviews and insightful group discussions, she began interpreting their reality through photographs.
The images, she said, explore both the alienation and struggles experienced by persons with albinism, as well as celebrates their lives and achievements.
The work also takes the viewer on an emotional as well as controversial journey, given its stark positioning and challenging suggestions.
“As in her previous exhibitions, which have tackled issues such as the challenges survivors of breast cancer face, or photographing dancers performing within slums to highlight the needs of populations living in shantytowns, Ayeni-Babaeko’s amazing artistry is heightened by her commitment to social change and supporting marginalized communities,” said Sandra Obiago, the exhibition curator and expert in development communications, who has worked on three previous shows with the photographer.
“Each work reflects both internal struggles while working through layers of identity and self-actualisation, and points to the urgent need to stop the stigmatisation of persons with albinism,” she explained.
“Working with a sensitive photographer like Yetunde has been a great creative approach to raising awareness about the challenges people with albinism face every day,” commented Jake Epelle, the Founder and President of the Albino Foundation.
“Much more needs to be done to advocate for the recognition and respect of the rights and socio-economic inclusion of people living with albinism. The Foundation works with governments and development institutions to improve the health and social well-being of PWAs in Nigeria.”
‘White Ebony’ also challenges preconceived notions on albinism with powerful images which reflect a Renaissance beauty through sensitive lighting, composition, and layered stylistic interpretations.
Sponsored by an international law firm, Hogan Lovells, White Ebony will run from May 25 until July 19.
Proceeds will go towards supporting people with albinism.