George Osodi

George Osodi
George Osodi, Oil Rich Niger Delta

The Niger delta region is of fundamental importance to those in power in Nigeria as the oil from that region makes up 95% of the country’s export trade. Between 2003 and 07, George Osodi documented this area and the dramatic effect oil mining had on the landscape and local population. Oil Rich Niger Delta contains over 200 visually arresting and hard hitting photographs depicting the degradation of the eco-system and human labour by multi-national oil companies. Osodi has said that when “oil becomes a commodity, an incredible visual drama unfolds.” ( We are presented with images of poverty, corruption and violence which reflects the urgency of the situation.

Osodi employs classical photographic motifs to great effect. Close up portraits, landscapes taken with a wide angled lens and portraits with dramatic foregrounds or backgrounds, often with fire or black clouds of smoke. There are scenes with camouflaged and heavily armed MEND militants (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta who demand a share of the oil money) in which the ammunition creates striking visual surface patterns and other photographs exploiting seductive reflections in water.

The population does not benefit from the huge amount of wealth created in their locale. We see men, women and children going about their daily lives in their polluted and ravaged landscape. Osodi reflects that “people are of great value to me, especially what I call the real people. They are a source of joy and inspiration to me. In recent times, the impact of oil in the lives of most oil producing regions has been highly paradoxical…I want to put a human face on this paradise lost.” (George Osodi quoted in Pale Reflections and Fables of Life: George Osodi’s “Real People” of the Niger Delta, Raw Materials Company, 2011)


Born in 1974 in Lagos, Nigeria where he still lives and works. His practice is photographic.

He studied Business Administration at the Yba College of Technology in Lagos before working as a photojournalist for the Comet Newspaper in Lagos from 1999-2001. He then joined the Associated Press News Agency in Lagos from 2001 to 2008.

Recent solo exhibition include: Rencontres de Bamako in Mali in 2011; RAW Materials Company in Dakar, Senegal in 2011; Galerie Peter Hermann in Berlin in 2009; Haugesund in Norward in 2008.

Recent group shows include: Environment and Object, present African Art at the Tang Museum at Skidemore College, Saratoga, New York, USA, 2011; Ghana Gold – De Money at the 6th Curitiba Biennial, Brazil 2011; Uneven Geographies at Nottingham Contemporary, UK, 2010, Afrika in Oslo at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway, 2009; Documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, 2007.

His photographs have been published in international publications including the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune The Guardian Newspaper (UK), The Telegraph (UK), CNN and the BBC.

His work is part of major international collections including the Smithsonian Museum in New York, USA; EMET, the National Museum of Greece; the Martin Marguiles Collection in Miami and the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel in Germany.

Works in the Show

Oil Rich Niger Delta


Photographs courtesy of the artist


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

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