For 46 days in 2016, Invisible Borders travelled across Nigeria photographing and writing on the road. The aim was simple: To map diversity across regions, states and ethnic formations in post-colonial Nigeria. These artists, through images and writing, interrogated both the elusive and apparent borders within the country years after the amalgamation of its Northern and Southern Protectorates.
With more than 200 distinct tribes, Nigeria is an entity with multiple histories haunted by British artificial constructs. But now, in a period of intense economic recession, political instability, violence, corruption and an unfettered health crisis, is there a distance between what is shared and what is privately owned?
In 2017 Invisible Borders will, again, embark on this remarkable journey. Taking another route across the country, there will be an attempt to complete the important work begun in the previous year. We seek to draw a map that is at once historical and contemporary while elucidating the ambiguities of what it means to be Nigerian.
Photographers, film makers 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. The central questions would be: Who am I in relation to the artificial map? How am I product of what I have been inevitably named? How do I interact across the several visible and invisible borders I confront as a Nigerian?
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 (of up to 7,000 words), while photographers will be required to produce at least an encompassing body of work from the trip.
In addition, Invisible Borders will present several short, personal, narratives by residents of the towns and cities en-route, with the aim of creating a crowd-sourced narrative of contemporary Nigeria. The narratives, combined, will be made into a lengthy documentary film. Loose and non-linear, the film will underscore the improbability of reducing Nigeria to a single voice, or way of telling.
This year, the project is funded by the “Von-Brochowski-Süd-Nord-Stiftung”. Also, supporting the project are Epidalert, CCA Lagos and Canon. Canon’s CEO said of their supporting the project: “Our partnership with the ‘Borders Within II’ project is an affirmation of our vision and commitment to developing, nurturing and supporting talent in Nigeria and throughout Africa.” We thank our media partners: Ventures Africa, YNaija, Naija Nomads, Olisa.tv, Fortunate Traveller and Asiri Magazine for their support.
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA,Lagos)
Media and Institution Partners:
The Fortunate Traveller
For more information or to follow the journey visit: www.borders-within.com.