What is ‘Nkata’?
NKATA is an Igbo word from the language spoken by the Igbo people of Nigeria. It simply means “Conversation”. Thus this podcast series will feature conversations with selected individuals (artists, cultural operators, and creatives) whose work I have known – some over many years and others, a little less so.
What sets them apart is that I consider them and their works to be compelling, engaging and relevant to the time. The idea of this podcast is to have in-depth but also accessible conversations about who these individuals are, their life’s journeys and how this translates into their vocation as creative people. Conversations will depart from exploring the background of the artists’ personal history while meandering through key themes, positions, and ideologies central to their works. Each episode will feature one conversation with a selected artist.
Who is the Host?
Emeka Okereke is a Nigerian visual artist and writer who lives and works between Lagos and Berlin, moving from one to the other on a frequent basis. A past member of the renowned Nigerian photography collective Depth of Field (DOF), he holds a bachelor’s/master’s degree from the Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris and has exhibited in biennales and art festivals in cities across the world, notably Lagos, Bamako, Cape Town, London, Berlin, Bayreuth, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Brussels, Johannesburg, New York, Washington, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Paris. In 2015, his work was exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale, in the context of an installation titled A Trans-African Worldspace.
Okereke is the founder and artistic director of Invisible Borders Trans-African Project, an artist-led initiative that addresses gaps and misconceptions posed by frontiers dividing the 54 countries of the African continent. The project’s flagship undertaking is the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip, wherein a dozen artists, including photographers, writers, filmmakers and performance artists collectively travel across Africa to explore and participate in various photographic events, festivals and exhibitions, while engaging on a daily basis with, and producing work about/in collaboration with, the people and the places they encounter.
Okereke’s work oscillates between diverse mediums. He employs photography, video, poetry and performative interventions in the exploration of one over-arching theme: that of borders.
Another aspect of his artistic practice lies in the intersection between art-making and pedagogy, specifically, lecturung and project organising– coordinating artistic interventions that promote exchanges cutting across national and international platforms. In 2008, he organized the first ever photographic exchange project between schools in France and Nigeria – the Yaba College of Arts and Technology Lagos and Ecole Nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris. This was followed by Crossing Compasses: Lagos-Berlin Photo Exchange and Converging Visions: Nigeria-Netherlands Photo Exchange (2012).
Okereke has served as guest/visiting lecturer in several art platforms and learning institutions – most recently Hartford University’s MFA program in photography and Summer Academy of Fine Arts, Salzburg Austria (July 2018).
In 2018, Emeka Okereke was conferred France’s prestigious insignia of Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the Ministry of Culture of France as recognition of his contribution to the discourse on art in Africa, France, and the world at large.