Everyone is Lonely in Kigali
From May 5 to June 17, 2017, Tiwani Contemporary will present Everyone Is Lonely in Kigali, by Kenyan photographer Mimi Cherono Ng’ok. The artist’s practice expresses what she describes as ‘an emotional cartography’.
The works shown arose from a project bookmarked by two journeys to Brazil, marking a period of major emotional transformation and shifting perspective for Ng’ok. Taken in locations as varied as Dakar, Accra, Berlin, Abidjan, Kampala, Kigali, Nairobi and Johannesburg, Everyone Is Lonely in Kigali reflects a life in movement. However, the images contain no traceable markers of geographical location and their light suggests a liminal state in time of neither dawn nor dusk. While, on the one hand, the images suggest a sense of being adrift, uprooted, or away from home, their open-endedness also allows them to transcend the specificities of place and time.
Cherono Ng’ok returns to visual repetitions of her own obsessions; trees, the tropics and horses. An unidentified male figure gives rise to feelings of lust, longing and loss, and becomes a metonym for a previous relationship, a current affair and a future experience; a man in my life, or many, or none.
Interested in the physical existence of photographs as images displayed on a wall but also on posters and maps, and in books and newspapers, the exhibition presents what Cherono Ng’ok sees as the sculptural quality of photography. Presented in a variety of sizes – some framed, some not – the images move beyond their visual content to become installed objects in their own right, referencing the formal and informal, high and low, artistic and pulp manner in which photographs can enter a viewer’s visual experience.
Produced as a means of making sense of or processing the world, the works function as an archival project or visual diary of sorts with which to record changes in state of mind and experience. Although made while travelling from place to place, the images created are intended not as documentary records of any particular visit, but as affective prompts for a journey through memory, nostalgia and experience – both the artist’s and the viewer’s own.
Everyone is Lonely in Kigali explores the universality of emotional experience, with location having little effect on the manner in which love or loneliness is felt. Intended as a means of collating spaces, people, memories, place, desire, loss and absence, the resulting installation presents a non-linear collage of vignettes that can be reinterpreted and reimagined retroactively. Unmoored, the viewer must draw on their own experiences to find a visual anchor within the world these images map out.
Mimi Cherono Ng’ok was born 1983 in Nairobi, Kenya. She studied Photography at the University of Cape Town and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her experiences growing up between Kenya and South Africa have engendered an intimate body of work centred on issues of home, displacement, loss and identity. Cherono Ng’ok has presented in group and solo exhibitions in Denmark, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa such as Savvy Contemporary, Berlin (2011); National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi (2013); Dakar Biennale international exhibition (2014 and 2016); Rencontres de Bamako (2015); Tiwani Contemporary, London (2015); Fondation Donwahi, Abidjan (2015). She has undertaken residencies in Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Brazil, Ghana and Germany, and won 1st place in the PhotoAfrica award in Tarifa, Spain in 2010.
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