Samuel James - “Water of My Land: The Niger Delta’s Illicit Fuel Trade”
February 12, 2013 – April 7, 2013
Opening reception: Tuesday, February 12, 7:30 p.m.
“DARK WATERS of the beginning./ …/ Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.”
- Christopher Okigbo, “The Passage”
New York, NY—On February 12, photographer Samuel James will open an exhibit at The Half King of his images of rogue oil ‘bunkering’ and refining on the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Throughout the Niger Delta, fires from hundreds of illicit fuel refineries burn every night. Concealed deep within mangrove swamps and raffia forests, men, women, and children manually run these refineries and sell the fuel downriver.
Opening night will feature Sam and Stacey D. Clarkson, Art Director at Harper’s Magazine, discussing the stories and images in Sam’s work.
“Apart from the lush beauty of his images, what caught our attention with Sam’s story was his direct engagement with Nigerians eking out a toxic, undercover living—and the primeval forest itself,” says Half King curator Anna Van Lenten. “The jungle is as much a character as the oil and the people making it. Haunting everything is the worldwide, unrelenting thirst for fuel.”
The Half King Photography Series is dedicated to showing exceptional documentary photography. In tandem with its reading series, it fosters a dialog between photographers and writers that underscores the importance of their relationship. Co-curating its photography series are James Price, photo editor at Newsweek, and Anna Van Lenten, writer and editor.
Samuel James, a photographer and educator from Cincinnati, Ohio, is based in New York City and Lagos. Since 2008, he has pursued extensive documentary work in Nigeria, as well as independent projects, and assignments for a variety of publications. He teaches nonfiction storytelling at Tufts. While still a student, in 2010, he was awarded the VII Photo/ Exposure Alexandra Boulat Award to carry out his ongoing project about the Area Boys of Lagos.