Emeka Okereke

Photographer, Filmmaker, Writer, Visual Artist
Dream Chamber
Location: Lagos and Berlin
Nationality: Nigerian
Biography: 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... read on
Public Story
Dream Chamber
"The scramble for Africa in the 19th century, and the carving of its boundaries along colonial lines turned the continent into a massive carceral space and each one of us into a potential illegal migrant, unable to move except under increasingly punitive conditions. As a matter of fact, entrapment became the precondition for the exploitation of our labour, which is why the struggles for emancipation and racial upliftment were so intertwined with the struggles for the right to move freely. If we want to conclude the work of decolonisation, we have to bring down colonial boundaries in our continent and turn Africa into a vast space of circulation for itself, for its  descendants and for everyone who wants to tie his or her fate with our continent."  Achille Mbembe, The Idea of a Borderless World (Chimurenga Chronic, October 2018).

In 2018, I took part in a 45-day “road” trip from Lagos, Nigeria to Kigali, Rwanda in the 8th edition of the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip Project. I was travelling alongside fellow artists—photographers, writers, and filmmakers. Dream Chamber is a series of photographic works created in the course of the journey. They are precipitates of my encounters, thoughts, reflections, and intuitive perceptions as offered by the road.

Foremost, Dream Chamber takes into account the physicality and nature of the African quotidian space. This physicality is very much anchored to an incessant feeling I have, of the ground shifting under the feet. It is as if the imposed cartographies from many years of colonial interferences are now urgently fighting to reset or refresh themselves, and those who inhabit these topographical construct are evermore at the mercy of its tumultuous nature.

Thus, Dream Chamber is momentary renditions of acts and processes of breaking space with body and presence by the many who live lives at the interstices of a changing world and crumbling cartography. Our activities, our existence, our occupation of space are a volatile negotiation between the past and the present.

By this breaking of space, the ground shifts under the feet. This shifting of ground is the optimism, the hope—values by which lives ought to be measured. Every step in a movement is a proactive act of subversion because, by that, spaces and lives are reconfigured, stretched and bent towards reparation of the world. To transcend borders of imposed cartography is to break the ground with presence and with every movement of the body.

It is to offset the inertia.

Dream Chamber is wriggling out of contrived spaces and delineating lines of colonial-ordering. Dream Chamber is the miraculous act of joggling invisible balls until they become visible through the repetitive morphing of light and shadow.

This joggling of balls is an act of reparation. Of transformation. Of healing.
It is plunging into the unknown where there is nothing in between, save for thin air.
It is life in movement and often at crossroads.

Across the spectrum of colours, gradations of light and grey areas, the granularity of textures, layers of blurry and focused planes, is the tenderness, the precariousness of lives lived in every day.

In the Dream Chamber, dark spaces are spaces of intimacy.
In the Dream Chamber, dark spaces are spaces of freedom.

Borders are sites of encounters.
And there is nothing hidden under the skies.

Dream Chamber is the will to Be.

In travelling through countries in the African continent, I did not seek to offer or follow specific narratives. I have made decisive attempts to not weave a narrative with hopes that every photograph holds in it what is seen as much as what is not seen.

The Dream Chamber series is set to become a book interspersed with poems and notes written on the road—during the making of the photographs.

Images and texts © Emeka Okereke. Courtesy of
 Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation

Also by Emeka Okereke —

Join us
for more access