Arts + Culture

Invisible Borders Bring A Trans-African Road Trip To The Venice Biennale

The Invisible Borders artist collective's 'Trans-African Worldspace' is on view at the 56th Venice Biennale.

All images courtesy of Invisible Borders


Last year Okayafrica contributor Mzwandile Sibanda spoke with the Invisible Borders artist collective about their work exploring questions of migration and movement on the continent. Composed of African photographers, writers and filmmakers, the project began in 2009 as a series of road trips within the continent. In 2014 the group set out on their first transcontinental road trip, which saw the nine-person team travel from Lagos to Sarajevo using one of the world’s most controversial migration routes from Morocco into Spain.

After five years of hitting the road, Invisible Borders recently brought their work to the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, where they're one of 136 artists and collectives selected to participate in the main exhibition at the Central Pavilion (21 of which are African). Titled A Trans-African Worldspace, the presentation consists of photos, videos, writings and recordings from artists involved with Invisible Borders' endeavors over the years.

According to Nigerian writer and Invisible Borders member Emmanuel Iduma, “A Trans-African Worldspace is incepted at the moment the experience of travel across African borders intersects with an idiosyncratic interpretation of it," he writes in a statement included in a press release. "Artists and writers who travelled as part of Invisible Borders did not show everyday spaces—like markets, streets, restaurants, roads, and malls—as places in need of repair or development. But as places where life occurs without judgment; with mirth, theatricality, and beauty. This approach has not lessened the severity of the continent’s contradictions. It has proposed a subtler, more graceful look. Hence the Worldspace is formed by the immediacy with which the traveling artists realize that the diversity of the continent is like a sea of endless encounters, productive happenstances, and valuable collaborations”.

Invisible Borders' 'A Trans-African Worldspace' will be on view at the 2015 Venice Biennale through November.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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