Autograph, London

Abi Morocco Photos:
Spirit of Lagos

1 Nov 2024 - 29 Mar 2025

Free exhibition
Curated by Lagos Studio Archives and Bindi Vora

The first exhibition of these remarkable portraits capturing the rich style and joyous spirit of Lagos in the 1970s

in development

This exhibition is in currently in development at Autograph


Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA, UK



Free, timed tickets will be available nearer the exhibition start date


Coming to Autograph this autumn: the first exhibition unearthing the story of Abi Morocco Photos, one of the most vibrant photographic studios operating in Lagos, Nigeria. Run by husband-and-wife duo John Abe and Funmilayo Abe from the 1970s to 2006, the studio became known for their versatility and dynamic portraiture, popular for many people around Lagos wanting to capture a variety of moments in their lives.

Abi Morocco Photos: Spirit of Lagos will focus on the studio’s formative decade – the 1970s. The studio became synonymous with its remarkable black and white portraits set against hand-painted backdrops, fabric drapes and an iconic chequerboard floor. These images capture the rich style and joyous spirit of a burgeoning city in transition, featuring a cosmopolitan cast of multigenerational Lagosians.

This exhibition is part of the wider Lagos Studio Archives project, to preserve and present the legacy of Nigerian photography, such as Abi Morocco Photos, to ensure their contribution within the cultural history of photography is recognised.


John Abe and Funmilayo Abe, c. 1970s

Little Girl in Wig, c. 1975

Girl with Crossed Hands, 1979

Man in White Suit, 1979

curated with

Lagos Studio Archives

Lagos Studio Archives is an ongoing cultural preservation project by Karl Ohiri (UK/NIG) and Riikka Kassinen (FIN/UK), consisting of thousands of film negatives documenting studio portraiture and vernacular photography in Lagos from the 1970s to post millennium.

The project started in 2015 when Ohiri discovered that many archives were being destroyed, discarded and stored away in humid conditions by a generation of photographers who were part of a shift from analogue to digital photography. Working with local photographers Ohiri started acquiring the endangered negatives in an attempt to ensure that this precious cultural heritage was not lost over time.

The Lagos Studio Archives aims to preserve and present the imagery of a generation of photographers that captured the style, humour and aspirations of everyday Lagosians, whose works would have gone unnoticed to the art world without intervention.

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In 2023, Ohiri and Kassinen were selected by Autograph as the inaugural Yinka Shonibare Foundation / GAS Lagos Artist-in-Residence to facilitate critical research and the development of the work.

With thanks to the Finnish Institute UK and Ireland.

supported by

Banner image: Woman Holding Curtains [detail], 1979. Courtesy Lagos Studio Archives.

Exhibition preview: All courtesy Lagos Studio Archives. 1) John Abe and Funmilayo Abe, c. 1970s. 2) Girl with Crossed Hands, 1979. 3) Little Girl in Wig, c. 1975. 4) Man in White Suit, 1979.

Other page images on page: 1) Courtesy Lagos Studios Archives.