For Kohta’s inaugurative exhibition, Donna Kukama‘s (South-Africa, 1981) video Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not) (2008) will be presented alongside Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen‘s new work.
Kukama is a Johannesburg-based multimedia artist working with performance, video and sound, often addressing questions of the use and narration of different histories and the value systems that are attached to them.
Donna Kukama is known for her ‘alternative monuments’ that illuminate contested and often painful events from recent history or contemporary life as performances in public space that sometimes remain undocumented.
In this work, we see Kukama standing in an open field in Nairobi as participants are leaving a meeting celebrating Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising against the British colonisers in the 1950s. She starts putting on lipstick, which might be seen as a gesture lacking in respect for the passers-by. But after a while, her whole face is blood red.
Kukama’s work is a public act of painting that illustrates the political expectations of the elderly freedom fighters. They have come together to complain to Kenya’s government at the time that their youthful commitment to ending British rule is not being honoured or translated into progressive social policy. This succeeded, at least in a formal sense, but why has Kenya – and most other countries in Africa – not yet become a secure, developed and equal society? No one knows why not.
Donna Kukama at Blank Projects.
Photo: Justus Kyalo