Often times, when one makes references to borders, it is in relation to an outward physical quality that imposes one form of limitation or the other, be it in our everyday lives or in the more institutionalised context of borders between nations. A visual rendition of borders might lead us to conjure a thick mass of matter the size of one’s imagination obscuring further vision or the possibility of a more distant horizon. In the same vein, borders could also be that which becomes tangible as a function of various categories of binary associations (self/other, black/white, masculine/feminine, First World/Third World, Capitalism/Socialism, etc). All these forms by which these rigidity manifest have sculpted our imagination of borders into that which separates – "that at which something stops”.
However, one can invariably say that within these dichotomies, a space opens up. It is an in-between space which, in Homi Bhabha’s words can "provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood – singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation”.
This body of work grapples with the navigation of this space, not as much as to understand as to inhabit it. Through constructed images, Emeka Okereke seeks to articulate and (de)construct certain positioning, tensions, frictions, and new sensibilities inherent in effervescent nature of this interstitial space, but also to question the singular notion of appearance and recognition. These works situate themselves at the borderline of conflicting contexts/concepts of social formations as in the case of Amsterdam/Bijlmer (The Netherlands), Berlin/ Marzahn (Germany), the Serb/Croat/Muslim (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Nigeria/Biafra (Nigeria) dynamics or broadly in dichotomies such as self/other and West/Non-West.
Emeka Okereke employs the body as a constant denominator, an object of useful agitation, a thinking-active entity – imbued with intuition, memory, history, language, appearance, and not least of all, inscribed violence – in the negotiation, or better still, disruption of notions of space, time and imposed cartographies. Here, Okereke infers that through Trans-border movements, distances are collapsed and demystified. The tangibility of fears and uncertainties for which we are often suspicious of each other are questioned, and so are the margins of human relations across presupposed cultures, identities and territories.
Thus the works are residues of ongoing reflections on the notion of perpetual movement, displacement, tensions between the subjective and the collective, politics of the black body within heavily contested socio-cultural conflations; and exploration of pluralities in the construct of appearances and recognition – all of which constitute the tumultuous components of the in-between space.