Academic visibility of Eniang Edem, a seasoned scholar, is today brought to prominence as defined by his ability to sustain academic debate through a photographic dialogue of his environment – Nature being his primary constituent. Discoveries of the wild in our clime had been marginally visible on the academic scene in Nigeria. All of this is beginning to change as Eniang Edem has the confidence to launch himself into the limelight as a biodiversity expert, through pictorial research and documentation. Biodiversity experts in developed nations of the world have had the privilege to make video documentaries and magazines to showcase their findings. But in Nigeria, this is a rarity, yet the effort of Eniang to bring to bare the hidden treasures of the wild, especially, and mostly the wild life of Akwa Ibom State, attests to the beauty of nature in his immediate environment.
As a photographic exhibition, it is clear that this is a mimicry of the beauty of nature in the vast wild forest of Akwa Ibom State that has been unexplored for exploitation. The birds and fauna as presented here are as a result of the rediscovery of the picture as a complex interplay between visuality and figurality. The exhibits present us with a pictorial presence of the hidden treasures we might never have seen, or imagined they exist. Using the eye of the lens, Eniang has been able to crystallize his ideas of the fauna at the most auspicious of times, as he blazed the trail in erasing the assumption of scientific research and documentation as being limited to the laboratories.
A cursory excursion into Eniang Edem’s works evokes emotion through his attachment to what nature offers and his application of a photographic process, that he brings to bear on one’s mind and imagination that can be freely but competently exercised. Eniang consciously lives and breathes the forest as he responds to every sound, flash and gesture in the wild with a camera both in the day and at night. Thus, he has successfully created his subject matter in a vocabulary that only the aperture of his camera has revealed. He is definitely innovative as he records each subject with outright dexterity. His photography is organized into aesthetic elements with balance, harmony, line and space, with colour as adjunct, thus playing a major role in the perception of the viewer.
Eniang Edem’s subjects in this photographic exhibition may appear predominantly familiar in a shallow sense of it – this might amount to an error of judgment as the true reality lies in the fact that majority of the fauna and birds represented are either in their last phase of extinction or never having been seen by anyone as they have never before now been documented. The works in this exhibition advance to showcase the link between art and science. Every picture as here presented communicates life in the wild by means of pungent pictorial seamless scientific-artistic (science-art) style of Eniang. With over 150 (one hundred and fifty) pictures, it is not easy to classify, however, noticeable classifications include: Mammals, birds, fish, and other species too numerous to mention. Most of the pictures reveal Eniang Edem’s talent for serendipity.
Professor Best Ochigbo, Fsna, mnsea
Department of Fine and Industrial Arts
University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria.