(born in Enugu in 1972) is a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist who mainly adopts photography as his preferred medium of artistic expression.
He is a founding member of the Blackbox Collective
and Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation
and in 2013, he founded and established The Nlele Institute,
where he serves as Director.
He is a two-time winner of the Seydou Keita Prize for photography, and he has also won the Jean-Paul Blachere prize. He currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.Long Bio
Uche Okpa-Iroha was born on the 2nd of January, 1972 in Enugu, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor of Technology degree (1997) in Food Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
He was spurred to go into photography after visiting an exhibition by the Nigerian collective, the ‘Depth of Field’ (DOF) in London, 2005. His work is inspired by the essence of humanity and the living conditions of his subjects. Most of his portraits can be interpreted as a dialogue between his subjects and their vernacular environment.
Other aspects of his work include urban cityscapes. He has also done exploratory works in painting and video art. Uche is a founding member of the Nigerian photography group known as the Blackbox photography collective and a founding member of the Invisible Borders Trans-African photography travel group. His first major work “Under Bridge Life” published in 2008 was favorably received by the critics and exposed him to the international media.
His other major works include exhibitions within and outside Nigeria – the First African Photo Contest, Tarifa, Spain 2008; “Loving Lagos” exhibition, Berlin 2008, and the 10th Havana Biennial, Havana 2009. Others Include “ Uprooting the Gaze; Foreign places, Familiar patterns”, Brighton Photo Fringe 2010, African Emerging Photography, Paris Photo 2011, the Ungovernables (Invisible Borders Group) New Museum, New York 2012 and GO-SLOW: Diaries of personal and collective stagnation in Lagos (New Directions in Contemporary Photography), Skoto Gallery, New York, 2013.
Uche won the Seydou Keita Award for the best photography creation at the 8th Bamako Encounters with the “ Under Bridge Life” project and also received the Jean-Paul Blachere prize. Other nominations include the Prix Pictet Award “Growth” in 2010 and the National Geographic All Roads Photography program in 2011. He is a contributor to several publications including “Lagos – the City at work”, “Nigerians behind the lens” and “Unifying Africa”.Uche is an ex-resident, fellow and alumnus of the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2011- 2012). He lives and works in Lagos as a photographer, founder/Director of the new the Nlele Institute.