Purple Magazine
— Purple #31 The Paris issue

kapwani kiwanga

kapwani kiwanga

interview by MAURIZIO CATTELAN and MARTA PAPINI
portrait by HENRY ROY

paris is once again attracting
artists from other places, other
disciplines, and other experiences
— reconnecting to its cross-cultural heritage

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — How did you begin working as an artist? Was it a dream in the drawer, or did it simply happen as an accident?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I studied anthropology and comparative religion, then worked as a documentary filmmaker, but I soon found that medium too restrictive. I thought I’d try art as it seemed to offer more freedom of expression. It took me a few years of observing and experimenting until I decided to dedicate my energies toward making art. In hindsight, all of these chapters slowly built on the one that preceded it.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What would you have done if not art?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — Who knows what life may have planned? I could have been a rice farmer, run a bed and breakfast, become a scholar. It is quite a privileged position to think I’d have a choice.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — How do you usually start conceiving a new work, and from where do you get inspiration?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I read a lot, research a lot, and only after that does a form start to take shape in my mind. Inspiration comes from observing the everyday — walking in the street, taking the bus, reading a book, a conversation.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Do you ever think of the audience’s reactions when thinking about a new work?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I always do.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Is online representation transforming the way we think and produce artworks?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — It surely influences how work is received and understood, but I do not let it influence how I make my work. I create works to be experienced physically.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What do you think is missing in the art world?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — The rest of the world.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Is there any taboo left?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — It depends on where you are in the world.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Do you think that art should play the role of a forerunner?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I think everyone and every sector should do that.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Can you imagine a world without art?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I think it is impossible. My understanding of art is that it is part of life and not just the reified realm of art “professionals.”

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — A walk in the woods or maybe sharing a beautiful meal.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — A forecast: will your work remain in history? Are you working with this thought in mind?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — I have a skeptical view of acknowledged or official “history,” so I don’t think about that too much.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What are you working on right now?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — A few new projects: among them, a solo show at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] in the US, a group show at Whitechapel in London.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — Where would you like to live, other than Paris?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — Every­where, for varying durations.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What do you, as an artist, like about Paris?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — Paris has been good to me so I am biased.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND MARTA PAPINI — What do you dislike about this city?
KAPWANI KIWANGA — It centralizes resources and power. It can position itself as a fortress — its relationship to its suburbs is more than problematic, but one can also expand this argument to the rest of France.

END

FLOWERS FOR AFRICA, <em>IVORY COAST</em>, 2014 COURTESY OF GALERIE JÉRÔME POGGI, COPYRIGHT AURÉLIEN MOLE AND ADAGP, PARIS, 2019 SOFT MEASURES, <em>LAGO MARE</em>, 2018 CUT GRANITE AND COTTON, COURTESY OF GALERIE JÉRÔME POGGI, COPYRIGHT ADAGP, PARIS, 2019

[Table of contents]

Purple #31 The Paris issue

Table of contents

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