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  • 14.07 - 31.08: The Rabat Residency – A Collaboration between Emeka Okereke and Emmanuel Iduma

    Title: The Rabat Residency
    Artists: Emeka Okereke and Emmanuel Iduma
    Date: 14th July - 31st August 2015

    Themba is Dead. Lagos, 2015. Copyright Emeka Okereke, Courtesy The Rabat Residency 

    From July 14 until August 31, Emeka Okereke and Emmanuel Iduma will embark on a journey which explores the route and stories of many travelers and settlers caught up in border tensions between Rabat, Tangier and Melilla. Their focus will primarily be on the everyday lives and stories of the people they encounter, with hopes that the works created will be reflections, questions and deductions from their experiences.  This collaborative work is premised on the ability of narratives to uncover the tensions in migration and vagrancy. They will find unique ways to interview and make portraits of immigrants they encounter, hoping to portray in the process the impulses that give rise to (sometimes) ill-fated movement.This will not be a research-oriented trip as such, neither is the aim to produce a scholarly work. Their goal during these six weeks is to implicate themselves, as visitors and strangers in Morocco, in the everyday lives of travelers and immigrants.

    The process and outcome of this project will be presented at intervals at Appartement 22 during which the artists will share their experiences and thought processes with the local artists and audience.

    In the course of preparation, Emeka Okereke was refused Moroccan Visa by the emabssy in Abuja, Nigeria. However, this obstruction has provided an opening for the rethinking of the conceptual premise of the project. 

    Therefore the collaborative project continues regardless of the outcome of Emeka Okereke’s visa application. In the first place, a photographer’s inability to get to the site where he intended to make photographs, based on bureaucratic restrictions, can be the impetus for a conceptual response. The photographic work produced will be triggered by generative conversations Emeka and Emmanuel will have by proxy. The photographs would be based on the intersection of experiences—one in Morocco, the other in Nigeria. In other words, at points where the conversation strikes a remarkable (or familiar) chord between the two realities. It will resonate with histories of performance photography, and expand on the possibilities for the kind of collaborative work artists can produce remotely, and in collaboration. 

    The writer could, in one sense, possess the eye of a photographer, writing about Moroccan encounters and experience devoid of photographic representations. The photographer, in another sense, becomes freed from the constraints of producing merely physical evidence of migration in Morocco; he turns instead to the traces of movement and estrangement in his immediate community, creating photographic works anchored to the carriers of these traces and underlined by the experiences of the writer-photographer conversations.  As collaborators, the writer and the photographer exchange, and work with, conceptual toolboxes. 

    Their work together emphasises borderless artistic communication. Consequently, the restriction placed on Emeka’s movement is subverted by the continued dialogue he has with Emmanuel. The possibilities for this dialogue are endless. The artists would exchange notes, photographs, video clips, audio recordings, found documents; materials with which they construct a bridge between absence and presence, and with which they deride the illogicality of borders.

    Hence, the following elements will shape the continuation of the collaborative project:

    1. There are carriers of the experience of estrangement and obstruction of movement in many African countries, including Nigeria. Their narratives ensure that the previously endangered link (Emeka’s contact with Morocco as a landscape of movement) is reconstructed.
    2. Conversations between Emeka and Emmanuel will occur within the framework of the residency, ensuring that the photographs and writings produced are generated from mutual considerations. 
    3. The considerations for the work will be informed by materials exchanged in the six-week conversation process: drawings, notes, photographs, found documents, audio recordings, etc. 
    4. The outcome of the collaborative project will de-emphasize the absence of Emeka, instead making that absence integral to the process of reflection, and using it as a fodder for an imaginative response to the problem of borders, movement, and estrangement.

    The materials generated during the course of the project are components of a final presentation, in Rabatas well as intermittent diffusion in Appartement 22's Radio 22. 

    This project is in collaboration and hosted by Appartement 22 with Abdellah Karoum as the curator.  

    See links to the outcome of the project so far:

    Recorded conversation featured in Radio 22:

    More details and to follow the progress of the project at Appartement 22's website: