Venetian-born photographer Lorenzo Vitturi now lives and works in London. It was here, in 2013, that he released Dalston Anatomy, a photobook which caught the frenetic energy of Dalston’s Ridley Road market. Dalston Anatomy was more than a project of the market’s stallholders and visitors: Lorenzo’s fondness for sculpture had him staging elaborately surrealist setups from wares found in the market, or defacing his own photographs with them. The project scored Lorenzo exhibitions at Foam Amsterdam, The Photographer’s Gallery in London, Contact Photography Festival in Toronto along with many other locations throughout 2014 and 2015.
Following that success, Lorenzo has returned with a second photobook. Published by SPBH editions, Money Must Be Made tells the story of three years that Lorenzo spent in Lagos, Nigeria, at Balogun Market. Thousands of miles from Ridley Road, Lorenzo discovered a multi-coloured, hyper-patterned tale of gentrification “in reverse”.
“I arrived in Lagos thanks to an invitation to take up a residency at the African Artists Foundation,” Lorenzo tells It’s Nice That. “At the beginning, I thought of observing a Chinese enclave located in the outskirts of Lagos as I was interested in the theme of Chinese products taking over Nigerian economy. But then, by chance, I discovered in the center of Lagos Island, one of the oldest parts of the city, the story of the Financial Trust House and how the Balogun Market came to be. It was through this story, which I took as a starting point, that parallels between the themes raised in Dalston Anatomy started to emerge.”
Balogun Market clings to 27-story building, the Financial Trust House. While it once played home to banks and western corporations, Financial Trust House now lives unoccupied. “Wheres in Dalston the local market was threatened by the arrival of corporate companies and new wealthier individuals, in this particular area of Lagos Island, the street market actually took over the financial activity of the area, which found its epicentre in a building located in the same area: Financial Trust House,” Lorenzo explains. “Apart from discovering this story quite accidentally, it is central to my practice a focus on transforming urban environments and the observation of these processed of transformation through the movement of objects and people.”
Money Must Be Made is something an unofficial Lagos motto, encapsulating the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation. “I had the opportunity to talk with many local people while in Balogun, not only while taking photographs and collecting materials but also when I returned to show the work I had made and asked people what they thought of it,” Lorenzo says. “In conversations I had with street market workers, they explained how people came to Balogun from the countryside in the hope to ‘make’ their own business and success. While Mr Alexander, the owner of the Financial Trust House, expressed his resentment towards these changes in the areas, that actually started happening since the 1990s, and on the impossibility of renting spaces within his building because the biggest source of work is now provided by the street market. One of the most remarkable sights is in fact the empty space inside the building, where debris and materials that belonged to previous office activities are not covered in Sahara sand. Outside, the contrast between people and objects and how these last ones are taking over the space entirely became striking. The objects, arranged vertically were inundating the whole area and almost taking over the space of people themselves.”