The King’s Peace: Realism and War
Owen Logan’s photo-essay Masquerade: Michael Jackson Alive in Nigeria (2001-2005) follows the exploits of a costume performer as he travels across the country. The young black soul singer’s transformation into the white ‘king of pop’ is used as an allegory for the conflict-ridden situation in postcolonial Nigeria. With the author Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, Logan presents a biting satire which critiques the relationship between the Nigerian political elite and foreign business interests. For GENERATION, Masquerade is shown in the context of a group exhibition which expands upon its central themes by interrogating the meaning of ‘peace’ in modern societies. Co-curated by Logan, the artworks and materials presented raise important questions about how domestic politics and economics across the globe have been shaped by warfare.
Logan’s revitalisation of realist strategies in photography has been heavily influenced by Nigeria’s performative and satirical culture. In Masquerade humour, montage and storytelling are used to describe circumstances and capture connections that straight documentary depictions miss. This approach continues throughout The King’s Peace exhibition with each contributor assembling words and images in ways that question the illusion of reality so easily achieved with cameras. Rather than capturing the spectacle of combat or the ghostly aftermath of violence these realist photographers and filmmakers have been reluctant to show the human drama of war for fear of making it appear natural or eternal. Instead they have examined the fundamental ties between conflict and peace, recognising the crucial role that images play in how societies communicate and comprehend notions of security. In this way they articulate the need for a genuine and democratic peace.
Owen Logan is photographer based in Edinburgh. He is also a contributing editor to the independent arts magazine Variant and a research fellow in the field of socio-economics at the University of Aberdeen. Together with the first presentation in Scotland of his photo series Masquerade: Michael Jackson Alive in Nigeria (2000 – 2005), The King’s Peace: Realism and War includes works by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Philip Jones Griffiths, Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia, Fred Lonidier, Snapcorps with Stuart Platt and Martha Rosler..
Image The National Anthem Band from the series Masquerade: Michael Jackson Alive in Nigeria (2001-2005) Owen Logan