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Artists transverse borders for real identity

By Japhet Alakam

After embarking on series of trip from Nigeria to various countries of the world, the Trans African Road trip project otherwise known as Invisible borders which started in 2009 will this year explore the various states of Nigeria.

From May 12 to June 26, 2016, the group made up of nine young Nigerians will kick off from Lagos and embark on a Road Trip across 14 states making about 15 stops in cities scattered across all regions of the country on is themed “Borders Within Trans-Nigerian Road Trip Project”.

The team consists of seven writers, film makers and photographers; Zaynab Odunsi, Emeka Okereke, Uche Okonkwo, Eloghosa Osunde, Yagazi Emezi, Emmanuel Iduma and Yinka Elujoba.

With the sole aim to discover their own country and through their encounters and experiences create works that would encourage conversations about the differences, similarities and hoping, as a result, to underscore the borders that are both inscribed and elusive within the country. They will be employing a subjective gaze that will focus primarily on reflecting the voices of individuals, the average Nigerians.

In the statement on the website, “hundred years after the northern and southern Nigerian protectorates was amalgamated into a single British colony, the remarkable diversity of the country remains apparent. In 2016, Invisible Borders will aim to map this diversity through a road trip across Nigeria; hoping, as a result, to underscore the borders that are both inscribed and elusive within the country.

It is said that history never returns to a lost state. There is certainly no artistic intervention that can hope to reveal a Nigeria that could have existed without the British. What seems possible, however, is to illuminate the multiple histories that continue to exist in a post-colony, through a mishmash of voices: ethnicities, religions, and visions of modernity.”

Speaking during a media chat before they left, the founder and creative director of the project, Emeka Okereke, stated that this was the 6th edition of the project, but it is the first time it will be held in Nigeria . This is also the first time we are getting hundred percent support from Nigeria. As corporate bodies like Diamond Bank, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria and Nikon Nigeria and others have come in to make this possible, the artists said.

The artists of the road trip will travel across 14 states, making about 15 stops in cities scattered across all the regions of the country. Photographers, filmmakers and writers invited to participate in the six-week road trip will undertake to produce images and text that reflect impressionistic, yet critical readings of contemporary Nigeria.

“What is foremost is the encounters: we shall meet, converse, dine, play and live with Nigerians from all walks of life, with hopes that the works produced eventually will be precipitates of those encounters. The physicality of the geographical enclave is equally of importance – a space, an environment is always a reflection of the people therein.”

This project follows in the tradition of the artistic road trip intervention established by Invisible Borders in the course of five editions. This implies that the artists will travel together in the same vehicle, all the while living, working and interacting with each other. The route will be fluid, allowing for detours, but equally encompassing.

Beginning in and returning to Lagos, the artists will move circularly through several Nigerian cities and towns whose history shaped and continue to shape a contemporary Nigerian identity.Each participating artist will be tasked with developing one major body of work as a follow-up to the trip. Writers will be required to produce long travel essays, while photographers produce at least an encompassing body of work from the trip.


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