Enjoy exclusive insights in the process of Sam Hopkins´ and John Kamicha´s collaborative project Thika Road Mad Boys_Until Death do us part_ Wazungu Wausi (Black White Men), while they´re exploring the emerging biking culture in Kenya´s capital Nairobi.
Get some insights and additional information on James Muriuki´s photography and video installation Untitled, exploring the materialistic manifestations of Middle Class aspirations in Kenya.
Find some interesting and enlightning information on Syowia Kiambi´s project My Mother´s Mother, dealing with women´s role in creating middle class futures in Kenya and Germany, as well as her second project Rose´s Relocation, dealing with one of her performance characters, Rose.
We are happy to invite you to take a look at Sam Hopkins´ project Thika Road mad boys_Until death do us part_Wazungu wausi (Black White Men), on Nairobi´s cyclists, shot in collaboration with John Kamicha.
The growth and expansion of Nairobi, economically, infra-structurally and culturally, has over the past few years been a subject of significant academic and media attention. One expression, and perhaps consequence, of this growth is an emerging bicycle subculture. A group of cyclists, many of whom are also artists, are building a bike scene, with a distinct set of cultures, practices and languages. Although some of the signs and symbols of this subculture are perhaps familiar to an international audience, the way they are performed in Nairobi is radically different.
Cycling in Nairobi can be dangerous and involves dodging corrupt police, traffic and thieves, generally in that order. The cyclists themselves are maverick and some almost outlaws, but largely they are middle class. This seeming contradiction is vividly expressed in the bike scene. For example groups of cyclists go on weekend bike tours, a perhaps almost conservative, European tradition. But the way this is enacted in Kenya seems more hedonistic than conservative, a kind bicycle-binge of drugs, alcohol, meat, and sleeping rough at the end of the night.
Why do these young men chose to eschew the traditional middle class values of buying a car, a house and living a safe life? Why do they identify so strongly with a subculture developed around a bike? How does the bike identity relate to other identities, such as ethnicities and gender roles? The Bike Gang is a collectively made experimental film, involving one group of bikers as chroniclers and re-enacters of their everyday life, dreams and hallucinations.
We are more than happy to give you a little preview on the exciting project My Mother´s Mother by Syowia Kiambi.
The work My Mother’s Mother is a room installation that fuses women´s voices from both German and Kenyan urban spaces, women living in the middle class milieu. The domestic references created with wallpaper, floor laminates, curtains and ceramic cups symbolize both fragility and strength.
We all have aspirations for a better life that goes beyond the basics of food, shelter, income and love. Often the idea of what this life should consist of is influenced by the consumer market, is governed by our educational and work environment and influenced by political, business and social agenda´s. Thinking that we make choices completely on our own accord is wishful thinking. Gender issues are extremely coded and elusive to grasp in their entirety. Women are the backbone of social structures and they in various ways, hold varying degrees of influence, utilising often-subversive approaches in the shaping of our lives.
In the work My Mother´s Mother you will hear a few voices some content with their lives but most are in a battle of self-preservation.
Dieter Neubert holds the chair in development sociology at the University of Bayreuth. His research areas include sociology of Africa (including social structure), sociology of violent conflicts, social change, and development policy. His regional research focus is Africa, particularly East Africa. He has also conducted research in Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Thailand).
Selected current publications:
Dieter Neubert: Die Fallen der „Rumsfeld Utopie“. Das widersprüchliche Verhältnis zwischen Mittelschichten, Zivilgesellschaft und Demokratie. . Festschrift für Reinhart Kößler. In: Hauck, Gerhard; Lenz, Ilse, Wehr, Ingrid; Wienold, Hanns (Hg.): Entwicklung, Gewalt, Gedächtnis. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot 2015, 128-141
Antje Daniel und Dieter Neubert 2014: Middle classes and political instability in Kenya: Civil society organizations during the post-election violence of 2007/8. In: Dominique Darbon (Hg.), Les classes moyennes en Afrique. Enjeux politiques d’une catégorie incertaine. Paris : Karthala, 155-184
Dieter Neubert 2014: What is “middle class”? In search of an appropriate concept. In: Middle East – Topics & Arguments Vol. 2, 23-35
Dieter Neubert, Christine Scherer (eds.), 2014: Agency and changing world views in Africa. Berlin, Hamburg, Münster: Lit Verlag
Artur Bogner & Dieter Neubert 2013: Negotiated peace, denied justice? The case of West Nile (Northern Uganda). Africa Spectrum, 48 (3), 55-84
Antje Daniel & Dieter Neubert (eds.) 2012: Translating globalization, world society and modernity in everyday life. Theoretical reflections and empirical perspectives. Special issue. Sociologus 2012, issue 1
Andreas Neef & Dieter Neubert 2011: Stakeholder participation in agricultural research projects: a conceptual framework for reflection and decision-making. Agriculture and Human Values 28, 179-194
Miriam Syowia Kyambi (b.1979) is a multi-media artist of Kenyan and German heritage based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work combines performance with impermanent and permanent mediums including clay, sisal, paint and photography. Much of her work dissects and brings to question perception and memory. She examines how the contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed history, past and present violence, colonialism, family and sexuality.
Often the result is an orchestration that engages the viewer in a dynamic process that leaves behind a powerful visual impression.
Syowia graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA (2002) where she resided for five years before returning to Kenya in 2003.
She has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and grants including 2nd place in the UNESCO Award for the Promotion of the Arts; the Art in Global Health Grant from the Welcome Trust Fund in United Kingdom; a grant from Mexico’s External Ministry of Affairs; and commissions by the Kenya Institute of Administration, the National Museums of Kenya and the Art 4 Action Foundation in Kenya. Her work has been shown in Belgium, Finland, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States of America.
by Nabila Alibhai
James Muriuki is a Nairobi based art practitioner who has primarily used photography and lens-based media in his work. His practice constantly revolves around the transition of society through specific objects that are often the extension of personal and communal bearings. His works explore the confluence of inter-dependent happenings in an ever-changing social landscape. He uses forms such as architecture and constructions as visual elements and metaphorical symbols that are an illustration of human capacity, desire and aspirations.
He is also interested in experimenting with and investigating the potential of images, specifically photography and motion, video, sound as mediums and processes of making art and ultimately as a knowledge reservoirs and transmission channels.
James’ work has been exhibited and collected in many countries and included in several publications. He has collaborated with artists, attended residencies and workshops in several countries as well as being a grants recipient. He has curated several exhibitions individually and collaboratively in Nairobi and abroad.
Founded in October 2012 and inaugurated in a festive event on December 3rd, 2012, the “Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies” will expand the horizon of the well-established field of African Studies at this University at international, national and local levels. Across a broad range of disciplines, it will open dialogues with other Area Studies as well as with fields of research dedicated to ‘systematic’ (i.e. non-regional) approaches. Thus, in its first phase (2012-2016), the Bayreuth Academy will fathom concepts of the future emerging from Africa and its diasporas from different academic perspectives. An essential concern is to engage in general debates about the concept of ‘future’ through insights gained from regional research, notably African Studies. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this project and the setting up of its institutional structures during the next four years.