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Witout RaMoMa, the Museum of Modern Art and exhibition hall for contemporary visual art in Nairobi, visual artists are loosing one of the more recognized art spaces in the city.
RaMoMa is a privately owned space that has struggled for some time with bad economy and organizational issues and finally (as it seems) decided to close down. There is really no other space with the recognition needed to take its place.
So it seems like Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city with more than three million citizens, is without a contemporary, well-established and recognized art exhibition hall. There is basically no art critic in the media and there is a lack of institutional structure to validate art. Informal structures are always important to find your ways within the art scene, but should not be the only one.
Kuona Trust, with it’s artist-in-residence programmes, studios, training opportunities. and small shows, seems all the more important. Here the contemporary, critical, satirical art can grow and develop.
In lack of institutional structures and in the margins of the art discussions in the world, ”You are not exactly in the crossroads of information in Africa” as visual artist Peterson Kamwhati puts it and one of the well-established artists with a studio at Kuona.
Peterson Kamwhati has for quite some time experiemented with line-ups; people standing in line, waiting, body-language and expression.
Another very strong line-up he did, was in the exhibition ”Sitting Allowance” at Goethe-institute in Nairobi on 23rd June 2009, a direct reaction of the environment before and after the election in 2007. In a text of the exhibition he described his work:
” The composition of these drawings is inspired by formal photos. The formal posture is meant to depict the rigidity and conformity that at many times is prevalent within institutions. Institutions are champions of formality and while there is nothing wrong with that, at times formality can be at the expense of humanity”.
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All the paintings that were carried outside just a few minutes before, have to be taken inside again as the weather quickly changed from sun to rain.
Visual artist Tabitha Wa Thuku‘s home is not just a home for the family, it’s also an exhibition hall, a studio, and a storage space for many years of art works.
She rents the house, have been moving 18 times and now lives an hour from Nairobi in Banana Hills. Her drive and capability of restart is impressive. She is an established and well-known visual artist in Kenya.
For two days we have together with GoDown Arts Center been tossing and turning the idea of a longer educational idea with in art and entrepreneurship and management. How can can an education be built, specifically designed for and meeting thechallenges in Kenyan and East African cultural field?
Nätverkstan is together with Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, discussing a masterprogram on art and entrepreneurship and how this can be formed. This together with the experience of Sian Prime from Goldsmiths University in London and also starting the Creative Pioneer Program does become an interesting mix of possibilities.
Things from finding who you need to talk to, what is the next step, who is the customer, audience or client has been discussed; as well as how do you make best use of your time, killing the worst ”truths” about marketing and adjust the marketing plans for the situation for the artistic practice; and things like budget, pricing and costing.
It is nothing like sharing experiences, asking challenging questions to each other, and create a room for structured reflection and ideas. The Indian notion of ”fearless listening” fits very well to describe the sharing which can make all the difference.
The workshop ”Money&Meaning” (or ”The Art of living on Art” as we also call it) in Nairobi is a continuation of workshops done in Nairobi and Mombasa during 2009 and 2010.
The idea is also to build further educational possibilities for artists in East Africa. The project is a cooperation between Nätverkstan and GoDown Arts Center in partnership with Sian Prime (UK), during 2010 funded by Swedish Inistute.
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