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Aspiration at the Edge of the Internet

Lagos: aspiration

The house on the left might look like a humble poster to you, and a slightly cheesy one at that, but actually its significance belies its humble form. I’ve seen this same design in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nepal, Tibet, 3rd Tier Chinese cities, India, and in many more places variants in the same vein that show IKEA interior shots, big white houses with shiny red sports cars, and babies surrounded by religious paraphernalia. It’s mostly found in cafes and tea-houses frequented by manual labourers.

The poster success is arguably because it fills multiple roles at one low price: very colourful – brightening up often very earthy and worn surrounds; highly aspirational imagery – this is what they are working 14 hours/day for; it’s size make it ideal as the center piece to a blank wall; and being laminated it serves well as an additional wind/rain shield (and can even double up as emergency roofing).

Over the years I’ve been documenting this form, and its remained remarkably stable.

For the customer base that appreciates it, the internet is a luxury they can’t afford to explore, although this is slowly changing. These kinds of photos are likely to bundled with animations, religious and (for males) military iconography on feature phones. This is today’s the edge of the internet.