Abraham Oghobase | Ecstatic, Waiting To Exhale

“Yes, I want something. I want my freedom, I want to live like a man, I am not an animal.” Photographer Abraham Oghobase introduces ‘Ecstatic‘, a vibrant photo essay with this statement from former kidnap victim and hostage Brian Keenan.


© Abraham Oghobase.  Ecstatic, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.

© Abraham Oghobase. Ecstatic, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.


The metropoles of this world beckon us in the name of opportunity but never without a price. Space be it mental or physical always comes at a premium. Obghobase translates a Lagosian state of mind, into a language that any large city dweller can resonate with. That moment of overwhelm, when you need to bolt and find release from the clutches of suffocation. Ecstatic opens with this prologue, words by Abraham Oghobase.

“How does one exhale in a demanding and constrictive city where millions of people struggle not just for physical space but also a mental anchor point? When one decides to climb higher than where one is expected to be, then suddenly realizes what is promised doesn’t even exist in that space at the top, do you remain there or jump? When one decides to jump, in an ecstatic moment of escape and temporary liberation, where does he expect to land? These and many other questions overwhelmed me when I first started this body of work, Ecstatic. In performing and photographing Ecstatic, I make my way to the top of vehicles around my neighborhood in Lagos only to take a rapturous leap, in effect creating a temporary social space for myself before gravity retunes me to reality. This unique space forming as my body curves through the air allows me to agonise, scream, exhale and at the same time empathise with other Lagosians like me in the daily struggle to exist. The inner turmoil created by a merciless city whose pressures tug at me from every side needs some form of exorcism, and Ecstatic has provided me that momentary exhilaration.”


© Abraham Oghobase.  Ecstatic, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.

© Abraham Oghobase.  Ecstatic, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.

© Abraham Oghobase.  Ecstatic, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.




Abraham Onoriode Oghobase (b. Lagos, Nigeria, 1979)  studied at the Yaba College of Technology’s School of Art, Design and Printing in Lagos, majoring in photography. Understudying Nigerian painter and photographer Deji Ajose and the acclaimed sculptor and photographer Uche James Iroha, Oghobase received further mentorship in the early stages of his career from French-Algerian photographer Bruno Boudjelal. A quest for the purpose of existence has led Oghobase to a unique form of art, as he explores issues relating to human emotions and identity against specific socio-economic backdrops, often using himself as material for his performance-based work. His photography has been exhibited in his home country of Nigeria and across Africa and Europe. Oghobase’s work is also part of private collections, including the KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.



Written by Missla Libsekal.


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All images courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.



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