Purple Magazine
— Paris Issue #31

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]

Paris Issue #31

Table of contents

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