Artists take road trip through Africa's 'invisible borders'

By Teo Kermeliotis | 7/24/2013, 11:48 a.m.
Emeka Okereke is a hard man to pin down. When we spoke earlier this month, he had just arrived in ...
"La Nouvelle Expression" - Douala, Cameroon, 2012.(Photo by Emeka Okereke).

But it's not all about ordeals. The journeys are also full of high points.

"One of the times that was very inspiring and very surprising was our getting into Khartoum," said Okereke. He admits that the prospect of visiting the Sudanese capital had made the team nervous, because of the images of conflict that have shaped the narrative around Sudan in recent years.

"Sudan is not a place people just wake up one morning and try to go to -- it is the place you hear in the news, " said Okereke.

"But when we got into Khartoum it was just amazing," he recalls. "Everybody was just so welcoming and lovely; it had nothing to do with the war you'd heard in the news. That made us think that we have to keep doing this project even 50 years from now because there is a whole lot to know about our continent and about our neighbors."

Throughout its journeys, the team makes several stops in major cities to join forces with local artists, conduct workshops and exchange ideas. As an extension of the road trip, Invisible Borders members also often return to the cities they've visited to exhibit the work they created whilst passing through there.

The goal, Okereke said, is to engage with young minds and create a network of people that will push forward broader discussions about 21st century Africa.

"Everywhere we go to there is a lot of optimism, especially from the young people," said Okereke. "A lot of people are waiting to be inspired; a lot of people are waiting to find something to get into," he adds. "And this is what is beautiful now about Africa -- when people see something like this, they immediately imagine themselves being able to do it as well."

For its next journey in 2014, the team has set its most ambitious goal to date: completing its first intercontinental road trip, from Lagos to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

"The reason why we're making this is because we believe that part of Invisible Borders and trans-Africanism is to be proactive," said Okereke. "We think that now it's a good time to address the relationship between Africa and Europe and talk about it," he adds. "To make a road trip toward there and sort of try to touch that line between Africa and Europe."