Notes on Everyday Africa
Essay by Emmanuel Iduma
“Our goal is to render visible an art that aims neither to stereotype Africa nor to refute its stereotypes. Mainstream media’s misrepresentation of Africa as a complex, war-torn single “country” with starving children waiting to be saved by Bono makes this goal particularly challenging.”—Emmanuel Iduma
The extraordinary artist's collective Invisible Borders brings together a group of photographers each year to travel across African countries in a van on a “road trip,” documenting their experiences as they do so. At each location, photographers and filmmakers produce work mostly in the form of street photography, or sometimes work on more conceptually oriented projects developed during the course of the trip. Writers are required to update a daily blog in which they share and reflect on the trip's progress.
In his introduction, Emmanuel Iduma, the group's director of research and concept development, talks about the daunting, and truly unique, challenges the group faces as they undertake to render visible an Africa that is unknown to the vast majority of the world. His essay is followed by a selection of 25 photographs from past road trips.
Emmanuel Iduma studied law at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and received his M.F.A. in Art Criticism and Writing from the School of Visual Arts, New York. In 2012, he published his first novel, Farad (Parresia Publishers). His fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in many journals, and his unpublished novel Becoming God was longlisted for the 2013 Kwani? Manuscript Prize. Iduma, the copublisher and creative director of Saraba magazine, was the curator and host of the TEDxIfe conference in Nigeria in 2012 and 2013. His nonfiction and criticism have appeared in Aperture, Art in America, Artforum, Granta, n+1, the New York Review of Books, the Yale Review, and other publications. In 2020, Iduma was recognized in Apollo International Art Magazine’s “40 under 40 Africa” for the broad social impact of his work. I Am Still With You, his memoir on the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war, received a Silvers Grant for Work in Progress and was published in February 2023. In 2022, Iduma was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction.