Oct 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Open Interminable Roads: A Trans-African Worldspace
With Emeka Okereke, Kay Ugwuede & Uche James Iroha
We are delighted to come together with the Vera List Center of Art & Politics and Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization to co-present Open Interminable Roads: A Trans-African Worldspace by Jane Lombard Fellow Emeka Okereke! This hybrid in-person and online screening will take place as a part of the VLC Forum 2021: As for Protocols, an international, annual convening of key participants in the field of art and politics.
The Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization is an artist-led initiative that challenges the perception of borders within the 54 countries of Africa. Members and collaborators Emeka Okereke and Kay Ugwuede will join us virtually and Uche James Iroha will join us in person to enact the performance of coming together, made all the more important during a global pandemic.
This hybrid in-person and online screening at UnionDocs reflects on notions and spaces of encounter, the poetics of relation, and the protocols necessary to translate these concepts into artistic practice.
Open Interminable Roads: A Trans-African Worldspace
85 min., 2021
For ten years, African artists employed the medium of photography, writing, and film to question and reimagine borders under the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip Project.
This film Open Interminable Roads: A Trans-African Worldspace articulates the many ways that the traveling artists have used their body and presence in the negotiation of imposed cartography and the transcending of preconceived ideas of Africa. During the road trip, the artists live, work, and learn together while on the move. They make useful encounters, which eventually inspires the work they create. The film presents the artists in myriad border conditions from Lagos in Nigeria all the way to Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
This film aims to place emphasis on the process of the road trip – its twists and turns, challenges, inexactitudes – from which the outcome emanates. The main characters are the artists themselves before the work they create. It gives a sense of how they employ their body as an object of useful agitation and subversion.
The film Open Interminable Roads: A Trans-African Worldspace brings into a film form the many ways artists who have taken part in the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip Project over ten years, have used their body and presence as thinking active (as opposed to reactive) entities in the re-articulation, reimagination, re-historicisation of imposed cartographies and concepts within the African reality. Within this intention, is the proposal for a new way of being. Trans-Africanism subscribes to the concept of Africa as a story of journeys, of fluidity, of complex hyphenated relations between identities and realities. Trans-Africanism affirms that “We Are The Story.” But to be the story is to question readily accepted assumptions prevalent in history. A Trans-African Worldspace is a space, and a way of being that makes such effervescent questioning possible.
Emeka Okereke is a Nigerian visual artist, writer and DJ who lives and works between Lagos and Berlin, moving from one to the other on a frequent basis. A past member of the renowned Nigerian photography collective Depth of Field (DOF), he holds a bachelor’s/master’s degree from the Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris and has exhibited in biennales and art festivals in cities across the world, notably Lagos, Bamako, Cape Town, London, Berlin, Bayreuth, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Brussels, Johannesburg, New York, Washington, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Paris.
In 2015, his work was exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale, in the context of an installation titled A Trans-African Worldspace.Okereke is the founder and artistic director of Invisible Borders Trans-African Project, an artist-led initiative that addresses gaps and misconceptions posed by frontiers dividing the 54 countries of the African continent. The project’s flagship undertaking is the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip, wherein a dozen artists, including photographers, writers, filmmakers and performance artists collectively travel across Africa to explore and participate in various photographic events, festivals and exhibitions, while engaging on a daily basis with, and producing work about/in collaboration with, the people and the places they encounter.
He is the founder and host of Nkata Podcast Station as well as the Director of Kupesonic Sound Project.
Kay Ugwuede is a tech journalist, creative writer, and photographer living in Lagos, Nigeria. Her writing has been published in Bloomberg CityLab, The Smart Set, Eater, The Forge Literary Magazine, Taxi Drivers Who Drive Us Nowhere anthology and has been a part of a group exhibition at the 2020 Dhaka Art Summit. She is the author of the travel chapbook A Substance of Things Unseen.
Uche James-Iroha studied Sculpture at the University of Port Harcourt, graduating in 1995. A year later, he became interested in photography and has since exhibited extensively in Nigeria and around the world. The Prince Claus Fund, a Netherlands-based organization that promotes inter-cultural exchange, has described James-Iroha as the “Leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers.”
In his diverse work, he fuses the creative language of imagery with the documentation of everyday reality while addressing wide-ranging issues from economic imperialism to the brutal relationships, which exist between races, social class and gender. He is also the director of Photo Garage, which offers an indigenous platform for domestic and global intellectual photography exchanges. He is also the director of Depth of Field (DOF), a photography collective based in Lagos. James-Iroha has been honored with the Elan Prize at the African Photography Encounters in Mali, 2005 for his work Fire, Flesh, and Blood, as well as the Prince Claus Award, 2008 for his work in supporting young artists and promoting photography as an art form in Nigeria.