For this iteration of our bi-monthly newsletter, we invited the artist Syowia Kyambi to curate our June issue. In the newsletter, she shares an episode on ‘Unthethered Magic’ by Sauti Msituni, an independent radio station hosted by Kibe Wangunyu and Dennis Kiberu, as well as gifting us an advice booklet from the collective ‘what the hEll she doin’ where we hear from the artists Usha Seejarim, Immy Mali, Sonia E. Barrett and Kyambi herself. The issue closes with an ongoing conversation between Syowia Kyambi, Kijo Agacuand, and Sibonelo Gumede titled ‘(In)Formal Frission: Another Conversation’. With these offerings, Kyambi has created her ‘Recipes for Autonomy’!
Syowia Kyambi (b. Nairobi) is an interdisciplinary artist and curator who works across photography, video, drawing, sound, sculpture and performance installation. She holds an MFA from Transart Institute (2020) and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2002). She is based in Nairobi and is of Kenyan/German origin. In Kyambi’s artistic practice history collapses into the contemporary through the interventions of mischievous and disruptive interlocutory agents who interrogate the legacy of hurt inflicted by colonial projects that still frame the wider political conjuncture of now. The work is complex, messy and uneasy. It requires its viewers and participants to bear witness to an embodiment of collective experiences, and the constant search for links between the now and the morphed now that is encapsulated in her work asks important questions about what is remembered, what is archived, and how we see the world anew. Rooted in her practice is a deep connection with the land, the earth and the idea of home. By working to eloquently blend the disparate concepts and elements she contends with through her process while avoiding excessive constraints or directing of the viewer, her audiences and participants watch and experience these ingredients react, interact and metamorphose.
Along with exhibiting her works throughout Europe, Africa and the United States, (in museums and galleries in Senegal, Belgium, Finland, Kenya, Mali, Sweden, Germany, Zimbabwe, France, Norway, United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, North America and Ireland.) Kyambi has received a number of awards and short-listings including the FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards (2016) and the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts Award (2004). Artist residencies include PRAKSIS, Norway (2019), CAD+SR Italy & Mexico (2018), HIAP, Finland (2018), IASPIS, Sweden (2013), and Delfina Foundation, UK (2016). In her curatorial work, she has collaborated with Ostrale Centre for Contemporary Art Biennale, Dresden, Germany (2019, 2016) and Goethe-Institute, Kenya (2012, 2010) as well as working with collectives and individual artists in East Africa. Her work is held in a number of private and public collections including the Robert Devereux Collection, London, the Kouvola Art Museum Collection, Finland, the National Museum of Kenya and the Sindika Dokolo Foundation.syowiakyambi.com