James Muriuki’s installation work critically investigates a potential “middle class” in Nairobi.Following conversations between himself and several social scientists from the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, he developed a differentiated perspective on the term “middle class” and how it is being used to categorize and imagine a group of people and what this categorisation might lead to.
Questions about the people that might be considered belonging to a “middle class” emerged. What constitutes this grouping? What are their aspirations? What do they surround themselves with? And how is this group related to and perceived by people who are not (yet) considered as “middle class”?
Suggesting that neither science nor photography can explicate these complexities within a single narrative, Muriuki represents a “middle class’ home” through several hundred images.Together with these image the artist presents a video and sound piece related to the actual builders of “middle class” homes. Overlaying the sounds of labor are audio excerpts of the scientist’s thoughts on their research methodology which brings the academic production of societal knowledge to the fore.