[May 30 2014]
Ato Malinda addresses sexuality, colonization, race, and cultural heritage through performative practice. Her past works have ranged from performance in front of a group to audience participation in a gallery to public performances on the street. True to its title, Mshoga Mpya (The New Gay) is highly intimate on two levels. First, the performance can be experienced by only one person at a time. The single audience member comes face-to-face with the artist in an enclosed cubicle. Second, during the performance itself, Malinda becomes a vessel through which lived experiences of LGBT individuals are encountered by the one-person audience. The stories were collected by the artist in Nairobi. She accosts this silence by performing her gathered conversations while concurrently preserving the privacy of the individual life stories through the small performance space. Half of Malinda’s face is painted with the rainbow flag associated with the LGBT community. She wears gender neutral clothing and a small afro wig to convey androgyny. This suggests that the performance is not so much about gender as it is about the life stories of LGBT individuals being shared.
According to Malinda, sexuality is not often spoken about in Africa. “As a performer, it is important for me to communicate what is, in fact, deemed the ineffable: to talk to an audience about what binds us through this human experience, and to talk in between the space of the definitive to the realm of the organically virtual,“ said Malinda. Photo Sophie Thun