The politics of borders continues to take newer shapes and forms as government policies, conflict and militancy displace millions of people across the globe. Still, there is a growing desire from one side of the continent to the other to make permeable, these stark dividing lines increasingly impacting interactions across them as the ideals and benefits of pan Africanism become more appealing and economically attractive to governments and individuals alike. Since 2009, the Invisible Borders Trans African Photography Organisation has continued to traverse the continent deepening understanding of its borders through lived experiences and remarkable encounters using mediums of photography, literature and film. The organisation’s work is strongly rooted in a desire to, one one hand; experience and document stories, culture, intimate encounters, the poetry of presence and journeying across borders via roads; and on the other hand; to shift predominant narratives about Africa away from traditional media reportage which are so often filtered through coloured or narrow lenses intended to fit preconceived prototypes and tropes.
In 2018, the Invisible Borders Trans African Photography Organisation embarked on the 8th Edition of its Trans-African Road Trip from Lagos, Nigeria to Maputo, Mozambique. Intended to take place in two batches, the first set of artists—photographers, writers and filmmakers—travelled from Lagos, Nigeria through Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo ending in Kigali, Rwanda. The 2018 Lagos-Maputo Road Trip was premised on two phrases drawn from the conceptual premise of the road trip: “volatile negotiations between past and present” and “I am where I think”.
The former speaks to the historicity of the Lagos to Maputo trans-African highway and the politics of movement along that path while the latter speaks to the thread which runs through the road trips year after year: the body, not only as a vessel of presence and movement but also an active thinking tool wherever it is positioned on the road.
In the 45days the artists journeyed, these guiding phrases served as grounding anchors alongside personal themes, albeit loosely adhered to, which informed the works they created on the road largely from premeditated and mostly chance encounters and interactions. Photographer and filmmaker, Kenechukwu Nwatu went in search of musical encounters seeking to what extent it is a derivative of spirituality. Writer, Tope Salaudeen-Adegoke wandered into many markets searching for stories at the pulse of daily transactions especially from women. Emeka Okereke had, as a guiding theme, “Dream Chamber”—a photographic body of work aimed at articulating something of “the ground shifting under our feet” in the process of border renegotiations and reconfigurations taking place in various forms and scales across the continent. Writer, Kay Ugwuede, went into the road questioning, as a path to understanding the differences which result from demarcations of any kind.
Some of these works are going to be up for viewing in a multimedia exhibition during the course of the Bamako Festival.
In addition to the multimedia exhibition featuring a non-linear film of the Lagos-Maputo Road Trip, images and text from a dedicated blog where artists shared their work on the road, the Invisible Borders will also host a 10-day workshop prior to the opening of the festival and involving up to 10 writers, photographers and filmmakers in Bamako; and a public space exhibition of photographs and texts from the In
visible Borders archive.
The 2018 Lagos-Maputo Road Trip is ongoing. The Batch B and final leg of the trip is scheduled to continue at a later date, and so, this component of our exhibition will take the form of a work in progress.
Adjunct Head of Publication,
Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Organisation