Photo Ville return to NYC

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Photo Ville is a free event dedicated to photography that varies in color, style and form held under the Brooklyn Bridge from mid- to late September. The event showcased dozens of galleries inside rows of elongated shipping containers. Many of the galleries’ photographs were based on anthropological studies about various cultures, conquests and failures.

One of the exhibits, presented by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, ran along the lower level of Photo Ville’s complex and featured works about strong African women overcoming prejudices and rising above certain social stigmas within their countries.  

Uduak Isong Oguamanam, the CEO of her own production company, “Closer Pictures,” shared her story. She lived in Lagos, Nigeria and acted as the backbone of her company. Not only did Oguamanam hire actors, production hands, managers, editors and directors, but she also carried the responsibility of making sure her movies were distributed to different theatres and DVD Stores. Additionally, Oguamanam made sure all of her employees were being paid, and, most importantly, noted that the films were successfully finished. Oguamanam considered herself a creative business woman, writing up her own scripts in addition to manning the business; proving to be a definition of what it means to be a woman of strength and determination.

However, Oguamanam shared that being a woman didn’t make her job more difficult. She even went as far as to suggest that it was more helpful to be a woman in the movie-making industry she thrived in. She added a personal anecdote, saying that women of Nigeria were more likely to watch movies that they could relate to. Maybe part of Oguamanam’s success, along with the success of many other female CEO’s and businesswomen, is that it is not about acknowledging your differences within a male dominated realm but using it to your advantage.

Photo Ville makes it a point to encourage anyone and everyone to come every year, as stated on their website: “More than 90,000 visitors came to Photo Ville in the incredible Brooklyn Bridge Park this year and we were absolutely blown away by the crowds under the bridge.”

Another exhibit presented by The Player’s Tribune, called “Athlete/Human,” brought out a different side of several of America’s most loved and revered athletes. American media portrayed these athletes as superheroes or villains based on their athletic accomplishments. However, Photo Ville took a different approach in depicting the typical life of an athlete.

These athletes shared their intimate and personal stories and agreed to have their pictures taken to showcase them within their homes. In the “Athlete/Human” exhibition, the photographs showed that these sportsmen were humans who went through the same ups and downs thrown at them by life just like everybody else did. Perhaps seeing these athletes in their typical homes can convince the rest of the American people that they live a mundane life, a view Americans may not have seen from them before.

A fellow Queens College student, Gabby Oken, found the images enticing, “I could just look at these pictures all day, and learn so much.”

The event was not limited to adults; Tali Roth, a fourth grader who joined me the day I attended, said she found the pictures “beautiful and strange.”

Along with these galleries, Photo Ville-goers could learn more about climate change, body positivity and social justice. Photo Ville was an experience not for those who just wanted to look at pictures, but also for those who wanted to learn more about the world they live in. I will certainly be attending the event again next year, and I hope other Queen College students will join me as well.

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