Chaotic capitalism: the human sculptures of Nigeria's sprawling Balogan market

By Sean O'Hagan

It is one of the biggest street markets in the world, a sprawling, dazzling city within a city that is frequented by tens of thousands of people every day. Photographer Lorenzo Vitturi reveals how he captured Balogun's vivid drama for his book, Money Must Be Made

During a trip to Lagos in 2014, Lorenzo Vitturi visited Balogun market for the first time. “I knew it was one of the biggest street markets in Africa,” he says, “but nothing prepared me for how overwhelming it was. The crowds of people on the narrow streets, the products on display, the noise, the colour, the chaotic energy. I knew I had to take photographs there, amid the sensory overload of what is, in effect, a city within a city, with tens of thousands of people passing through it every day.”

What most fascinated Vitturi was the contrast between the human drama of the vast, sprawling market and the eerie emptiness of the 27-storey brutalist office block that loomed over it. Built in 1987, Financial Trust House was once the thriving hub of Nigeria's financial sector. But as the market grew inexorably around it, the bankers and traders moved elsewhere. “Save for the owner's office, all 27 floors are empty,” says Vitturi. “The real estate value of the building has fallen dramatically, but he is still holding out for some kind of miraculous redevelopment.”

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Source: Chaotic capitalism: the human sculptures of Nigeria's sprawling Balogan market