'Shanty Mega-structures' rise above a future Lagos

Olalekan Jeyifous

Science fiction authors have always dreamed up cities of the future. When it comes to seeing those dreams realized, though, artists and filmmakers have heavily focused on what Western cities might look like. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. Olalekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian-born artist currently based in Brooklyn. With a background in architecture, much of his work is focused on urban environments and buildings. In his 2015 series Shanty Mega-structures, Jeyifous examines the future of improvised housing. Shanty towns are a common feature among the developing world, with houses built with no regulatory oversight, typically with a lack of safe water, electricity and sanitation.

The image above is but one from a larger collection, which can be viewed on Jeyifous' site. It depicts a future "mega-structure" among the improvised waterfront housing of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria. The buildings across the series seem almost fungal, looming over their neighbors, weaving organically together high above the shanty towns.

Through his work, Jeyifous aimed to "juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos with colossal vertical settlements representing marginalized and impoverished communities."

"It's a visual conversation on how slums are frequently viewed as unsightly eyesores to be bull-dozed, leaving their inhabitants completely displaced," he continued. "This is a standard practice that occurs from Chicago to Rio de Janiero, and throughout the world." Shanty Mega-structures was recently highlighted by online science fiction and fantasy magazine after Jeyifous said Binti, a Tor-published novella by Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okarafor, was an influence on the series.

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