In some ways these days have run into each other. We’ve mostly been mapping, working on archival stuff and planning the rest of the residency, including working out how we can most effectively and usefully share our practice with Kenyan artists. Syowia shared a map of the Nairobi art scene with us, and talked us through who the major players, movers and shakers are, and about key organisations, existing and no longer existing. It’s clear that over time there has been a lot of ’outside’ influence on the way things work, and no shortage of people willing to exploit local artists and resources in an all-too-familiar tale. It seems opportunities are fewer and further between and dependent on foreign largesse and philanthropy, which brings with it its own agenda. Selling work is a big part of things, which leaves less room for more innovative and community-focused projects which seem more likely as outreach fallout than in and of themselves.
We’re planning several workshops, one on how to decode the callout, and the funding calls, another focusing on the balancing act of collective and personal working, and a creative life mapping with artists in a ‘cusp’ position, to help them see a way forward.
The archive work has been interesting and challenging as well. Reminding us of just how much we’ve done over the past thirty years, and how important it is that we make this learning available to those who come along later, hoping they manage to miss out at least some of the mistakes that have formed our learning curve.