About the project
Between Us is a trilogy with two chapters in Nairobi and Dresden and the final chapter to take place in Kigali through this project. The histories of Kigali, Nairobi and Dresden have interesting intersections. Erasure of identity is taking place as a coping mechanism for traumatic histories and artists feel a sense of repression.
This Kigali installation explores the questions: what happens to the authentic self when the process of building a nationalist identity deconstructs personal identity, results in varying levels of self-censorship, fear and a false sense of security? How does government, the church and education contribute to the building of a collective identity? How do people negotiate their own vulnerabilities? The project navigates these multiple entry points using an interactive audience approach, workshops and live performances which reference relationships to class, race and history.
The project utilises the Kaunda suit (made famous by former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda) a short-sleeved tieless suit; an African take on the western business suit. Over time the Kaunda suit has changed from being a symbol of prestige to an employee’s uniform with connotations of servitude. Two other dominant costumes in the project are the secretarial outfit and the domestic worker’s uniform, which embody the social power struggle that occurs when placing an adult woman in clothing that resembles a school uniform, to carry out domestic chores and care for children. Double-sided mirrors are an ever-present element in the project and facilitate voyeurism by participants.
I met with artists and obtained the support of a studio space that can be used for the live performance/workshops. The project aims to be open for a month in 2017 or 2018.
About the artist
My projects discuss taboo subjects in African society. I embody and articulate traces of Bantu and Germanic culture that inform my practice, exploring race, gender, memory and power. My residencies in IASPIS 2013 and Delfina Foundation 2016 catalysed the development of Between Us. Research undertaken with the Wellcome Collection, and the BIEA initiated continuing collaborations with artists and sociologists fostering cross-pollination between disciplines, activating audiences and conversations.