“Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organisation” is an artist-led initiative founded in 2009 by Emeka Okereke but officially registered in 2011 as a not-for-profit organisation under CAC in Nigeria. The pioneer members and participants at the first road trip of the Organization are: Ray Daniels Okeugo, Emeka Okereke, Uche Okpa – Iroha, Amaiza Ojeikere, Uche James Iroha, Nike Adesuyi Ojeikere, Lucy Azubuike, Charles Okereke, Chriss Aghana Nwobu and Unoma Giese.The main aim of the Organisation is to work with artists and Individuals to contribute through art and photography to the patching of numerous gaps and misconceptions posed by frontiers within the 54 countries of Africa. Beyond that the organisation hopes to expand its activities beyond issues that relate to geographic borders and other forms of discriminating parameters in photography and arts. It is a platform that also stands as a symbol of exchange of ideas between cultures and people.
The mission of the Initiative is to tell Africa’s stories, by Africans, through photography and inspiring artistic interventions; to encourage exposure of upcoming African photographers towards art and photography as practiced in other parts of the continent.; to establish a platform that encourages and embraces trans- African artistic relationships within the continent, and to contribute towards the socio-political discourse shaping Africa of the 21st Century.
Their goal is to constantly spread and share knowledge and information, cutting across the demarcating lines of classes and proficiency in literacy, thereby expanding the art public to include more of the local audience and the “layman”.
Their activities aim to cut through the local, national and international, and to create points of interactions between these levels, hence the name Invisible Borders. The main activity /project of the Initiative since its foundation has been The Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip Project, a project where about a dozen artists/photographers collectively take road trip across Africa to explore and participate in various photographic events, festival and exhibitions while engaging on a daily basis with the environment and the people encountered. The emphasis is primarily on the collective journey of the participating artists who, during their momentary stops in capital cities, create photographic, video and textual works that often reflect their individual approach to engaging with local artists, art practitioners and the inhabitants. They also collaborate intensively with colleagues from each of the countries involved.
Participants of Invisible Borders are dedicated to creating works, which portray the dynamism, richness as well as contradictions of the various modes of existence of the African people. In doing this, they reject a simplified notion of Africa nor a tidy definition of it, but instead hopes to create an archive of works which “complicates” the depiction of contemporary Africa, one which sees the continent as work-in-progress, rather than a foregone conclusion.
We can therefore see the Invisible Borders Road trip as a workshop of artistic creation and a performative social intervention all rolled into one. Moreover it offers that unique experience of “learning in motion” and discovering oneself through interactions with diverse encounters by constantly altering one’s own reality through constant movement.
The first edition was in 2009 with ten participants: nine photographers, and a writer who travelled from Lagos, Nigeria to Bamako Mali with stops in Benin, Ghana, Togo and Burkina Fasso. In 2010, the group travelled with ten participants from Lagos to Dakar and in 2011, from Lagos to Addis Ababa. All the three editions were documented in a blog. After the trips the workshops,
conferences and exhibitions were organized in Bamako (2009), Lagos (2009 and 2010), Abuja (2010), Dakar (2010), Addis Ababa (2010), Bern Museum Switzerland (2010), Berlin (April2011), New York (2012) where the outcome and experiences of the two editions were shared with the public and students.
The results of the past two editions are that nine emerging photographers and two writers have gained first national/international exposure, and that the website, the blog, and the follow-up workshops are gradually becoming a strong resource and database for art researchers, and interested collaborators. It has also commenced an “Image Bank project”, in order to make available all the images to users across the continent and the world at large. They have also earned the partnership of reputable organizations
and firms such as Canon Europe, HIVOS, Institut Francais, New Museum of New York, Prince Claus, the Ministry of culture of Mali, Embassy of Nigeria in Addis Ababa, Art Moves Africa, and Mseum of Modern Arts Addis Ababa, etc.
Although IB is not an initiative with fixed participants, the organization consists of board members, executive members and members. For more information on the organization please refer to the appropriate page.