10 Feb 2009

Women of Kibera Slum

An amazing art project in Nairobi; Women from Kibera photographed by 'JR' and exhibited in the slum and on train rooftops. More here.
Now, don't people say over 1 million people live in the largest slum in the world. Who did the count, when, how? A researcher claims the number to be closer to 250,000; read more. Some profit from infating poverty.
A friend said; "What do we mean by 'third world'? Last time I checked there was only one world."

1 comment:

Sukuma Kenya said...

I came across this online and shared it with a few friends in the art world and also who work in Kibera. I thought I would share their comments with you:

1.Personally, i think thats one of the most insane things I have ever seen.or maybe ive just become a sour person with no sense of playfulness left which would be awful REally curious, what does everyone else feel about this? I was feeling a bit yukked out that he could turn Kibera with what its just gone through into a playground, but then, I suddenly realised, no one will be enjoying the moment when train with eye pics meet mouths than Kibera residents.... But amidsts such harsh poverty it somehow seems so indulgent... But is it? Maybe more art in grand ambitious scales is what KEnya needs?

2. Hi all, as i learned that that guy is doing this work, randomly in different locations worldwide, i dislike the work. Its simple superficial aestheticizing the surrounding, where the actual context of the work, is much stronger than the work itself. That it's happening in the Slum, is so to speak, a simple collateral damaged, not a random collateral damage, is well chosen because of the "sexyness" of the subjects living there.

I admit that the work has something spectacular, but for me, that's far not enough. Its doesn't correspondent out of the dominant stereotypes, and what makes that work 'interesting' is simple the poorness of the people living in kibera. Their houses are his canvas. Exploitation pur. All the wealth generated by that art work, feeds only the ego of the artists, who managed again, to enter a dangerous area, to feed certain myths of art history.

3.I find it so interesting that no-one blinks an eyelid if Orange or Coca-Cola put up a huge billboard (advertising that encourages "slum" dwellers to buy into the corporate dream), but art like this creates all sorts of tensions, debates and issues.

At first, I was excited about this - YES, lets put art in places where art snobs won't think to find it; YES, let's re-define space with whatever the hell makes sense; YES, let's open up a public space for creativity and questions; YES, let's redefine utility and remind people that there is incredible beauty no matter what your house is made of. Besides, it's funny. Humour is the great leveller. Perhaps this piece of art will allow people to connect to "slum" dwellers without feeling pity, guilt, disdain, or any other emotion that serves to make it harder for people to share in the knowledge that life can be sweet, on whichever side of the socio-economic border you lie.

Then again, Sam has an excellent point - I think this would have been more meaningful had it come from someone from Kibera. I'm going to go have a look over the weekend and ask the residents what they they think about it - I think that is the most important demographic that this affects.