Alex Mawimbi United Kingdom
Alex Mawimbi (born in Kenya), lives and works in Hull, England. She has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Transart Institute, New York. Her works consist of performance, drawing, painting, installation, and video. Through her diverse practice, Mawimbi investigates the hybrid nature of African identity, contesting notions of authenticity. She also works on intersectional feminism and queer identity.
I have worked and continue to work in several media. The change in media most often, is spurred on by an idea. I work hermeneutically; researching performance, queer and media theories and anthropology. My work is borne of my books. I work in performance, sculptural installation, video, sound, drawing, clay and painting. Often, my work is auto-ethnographic, and self-referential. It is auto-ethnographic, because a story like mine is seldom told or heard. And when it is, it is seldom believed. I feel that it is my duty to share my life experiences through my work. Not only as a form of catharsis, but also to speak to other women (and sometimes men) whose experiences have been similar. I have been further encouraged by the #MeToo movement. Sexual abuse stories have been brought forward into the mainstream cultural dialectic and this is a huge step forward. During such work, I work with my body. By centring on a black female body, questioning her visibility becomes a political statement, whether it be in public or in a gallery setting. My work is self-referential, because I continue to tell the story of Alex Mawimbi. My sculptures refer to my drawings, which are line drawings (or collage), which refer to Greek classicism. When I am not working with my body, I am still working with my body. My passion for object making, was borne from research. Research in Western museums. I have worked with the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of African Art, both part of Smithsonian Institution, as well the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. In all three museums, I was affronted by my heritage on display. Sometimes stolen works sometimes traded with Africans monetarily. This experience of ambivalence is an experience of privilege. Had these objects not been acquired, I may never have seen them. I created a lecture performance to express this ambivalence. And sometimes perform it when people are listening.