New York, NY 10013
Interfacing Radical Queer Sexualities and Urban Hustle. Kenyan artist Neo Musangi discusses Nairobi's queer identities and urban youth radicalization with scholar Tavia Nyong’o.
Stories of Our Lives (Directed by Jim Chuchu, Countries: Kenya/South Africa, Year: 2014). Created by the members of The Nest Collective, a Nairobi-based arts collaborative, this anthology of five short films dramatizes true stories of LGBT life in Kenya.
Tchindas (Directed by Marc Serena and Pablo García Pérez de Lara, Countries: Spain/Cape Verde, Year: 2015). Within a small, tropical Cape Verdean Island, the beloved Tchinda is hard at work preparing for a Carnival she hopes will capture the town’s imagination. Despite her great reputation, Tchinda remains humble and every afternoon she happily tours the neighborhood to sell her best “coxinhas”, a classic Brazilian treat: delicious fried balls of chicken. Filmmakers Marc Serena and Pablo García Pérez de Lara have crafted a lush, perceptive documentary that at times feels akin to a fairy tale. The film reveals a hidden landscape tucked far away from the world we know, where trans inclusion and teamwork make up the fundamental structure of a truly magical community and culture.
The Performa Institute's 2017 program concludes with the residency of Kwani Trust, a Nairobi-based literary network. Kwani Trust presents Everyone is Radicalizing, an experimental subversion of its upcoming printed journal issue Kwani no. 9. The Kwani platform at Performa features an installation which includes photography, oral history, audio recordings, and film, as well as a series of public programs at the Performa Hub. Everyone is Radicalizing takes as its point of departure aspects of radicalization across East Africa with focus on the Kenyan Coast and North Eastern Kenya as a nexus of cultures, religions, and politics. The project uniquely amplifies the area’s historical and cultural context by taking a broad, exploratory look at phenomena often described in monolithic terms, such as terror, insecurity, violent extremism, and radicalization in the region and beyond.
Functioning primarily as a publishing house since 2003, Kwani Trust produces contemporary African writing, offers training opportunities, produces literary events, and has established a place for Nairobi within larger literary networks. The film selections are organized in collaboration with the African Film Festival New York.
Neo Sinoxolo Musangi experiments with performance, text, and installation art. In search of new methods to ‘read the city’, Neo focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting. Musangi’s practice is characterized by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of danger, chaos, and (dis)order. Neo's work-life has been in academia, art, and activism and has participated in, among others, group exhibitions at Fada Gallery, Johannesburg, at the University of Cape Town, National Museums of Kenya, and is part of the queer art collective, String Fabulations (Nairobi/Dublin/Rotterdam) and recently completed an Art Residency at the University of Amsterdam's Centre for Urban Studies.
Tavia Nyong’o is Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, and Theater Studies at Yale University. He works in contemporary aesthetic and critical theory with a particular attention to the visual, musical, and performative dimensions of blackness, as well as to the affective and technocultural dimensions of modern regimes of race. His first book, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory(Minnesota, 2009), won the Errol Hill Award for best book in African American theatre and performance studies. He is completing a study of fabulation in black aesthetics and embarking on another on queer wildness. Nyong’o has published in venues such as Radical History Review, Criticism, GLQ, TDR, Women & Performance, WSQ, The Nation, Triple Canopy, The New Inquiry, and n+1. He is co-editor of the journal Social Text and the Sexual Cultures book series at New York University press. He regularly blogs at Bully Bloggers.
Image credit: Kwani Trust, Graphic by Michael Araka-Musa Omusi. Concept by Billy Kahora