Curators vs Humanitarians: a Kenyan Artist's Dilemma

Researcher:

Pierre-Nicolas Bounakoff

Research Area:

B


Pierre Nicolas Bounakoff’s research focuses on the contemporary artists of Kenya. The most important factor to investigate is the very predominant role played by various international humanitarian structures and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the local art scene. This leads to the spreading of a very specific iconography, derived from these organisations’ discourse, and ultimately to a redefinition of the moral values expressed in the artworks produced in Nairobi, thus conflicting with the kind of works currently in circulation within the globalised art world. This globalised art world is also represented in Kenya, mostly through the influence of the western curators, and their key role in the constitution of the current discourse surrounding the artists, as well as in the building of a large network for the diffusion of their production and its insertion in the international circles of contemporary art. The extremely rapid development of artistic activities in Kenya makes it a particularly readable example of this process. Between these two driving forces, what seems to be at stake is nothing less than a complete mutation of art as an activity in Kenya.