OUT of OSTRALE O20 Nairobi (WomanIsm)

Get Your Foot Off My Neck

Artists: Sonia E. Barrett, Frenzy Höhne, Ramona Seyfarth, Carolin Koss, Immy Mali, Hanna Nitsch and Usha Seejarim

Curator: Syowia Kyambi
Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya

The second stage of the WomanIsm project was planned to take place in March 2020 in Nairobi (Kenya) and bring together, in frame of an artistic residency and a closing exhibition, a great selection of German and African female artists.

However, the current worldwide Corona emergency challenged many cultural events, including ours. Nevertheless, thanks to the great possibilities offered by this digital era, we are proud to present our WomanIsm artists and their beautiful artworks here on our website in the form of an online exhibition. 

We want to set an example of the relevance of art and culture in these difficult times, and provide a platform for artists who right now are partcularly affected by the current situation.

Seejarim's "Trophy Wives" screams get off my neck. Barrett's "Telling Time" asks why is the foot on the neck. Why do we treat time and nature in an oppressive manner? Höhne's work "SOMA SOMA - no willpower or exercise required" speaks about choices, about desires, about wanting to drink an idea that won't fill you. Childhood memories fill Mali's work. Her letters to her childhood self engage in the extraction of the foot from the neck. Koss's "The Obedient" is a dystopic search for a different future, a future unknown. Seyfarth's "I AM" is in the neck, looking at it from the inside out. Nitsch's work, "La Source / Die Quelle" lays bare the vulgarity within our society. The repeated ambush on the private and the spectacle that's created in what we consume. What we repeatedly do is step on the neck. And repeatedly the victims labor to remove the foot over and over and over. With capitalism, with the violence of our economies, with the violence of mono-culturalism, with racism, with sexism, the labor of removing feet from necks remains. Sadly, it is constant. The world is moving to more desperate times. We are suffocating, ourselves in each other. The work remains potent. Can we get to a future where there are no longer feet on people's necks?

"Get Your Foot Off My Neck " speaks to all of us, rich and poor, black and white, the yin and the yang, male and female, and the definitions in-between. It is our duty to consistently remove the foot from the neck. It is our duty to consistently revise whether our feet are on other people's necks. And if so to remove them, to remove them now. (Syowia Kyambi)

also featuring the artists' work exhibited at the
OSTRALE Biennale O19, Ismus
(2019. 03. 07. - 01.09. Dresden)

Hanna Nitsch * 1974 (DE)

La Source / Die Quelle | 2020

Photography |16 photographs | 60 x 39,80 cm each

In this series Hanna Nitsch develops photographs that she reworks and alters through various photographic "interventions". The sources of the pictures are public YouTube-videos of women giving birth, who expose themselves publicly during one of the most existential and intimate moments of their life. There is apparently no discrepancy between maximal intimacy and extreme exposure. The artist intends to capture with the camera a moment that is only to be seen on the elated faces of these women. In this way, close-ups of female faces are produced, that at first sight do not reveal what it is exactly that unleashed their ecstatic and highly emotional expressions. As the photo of a picture displayed on a computer screen is taken, pixels, chromatic aberrations, the mouse pointer, reflections, blurring, incoming light, dust and impurities become an elementary part of the artistic work. Through this act of selecting and "displaying", every single photograph goes through a careful, touching form of artistic appropriation.

Frenzy Höhne * 1975 (DE)

SOMA SOMA – no willpower or exercise required | 2007

Installation | 13 bottles (glass), stick-on labels, holders, pourers, coloured water, plastic cups | Size variable

13 bottles are filled with coloured water. Each bottle is labelled a character like POTENCE, CHARISM, POPULARITY, OPENESS, PASSION, HUMOR ... The visitors are getting plastic cups and are invited to take their choice and drink the supposed ‚emotional substances'. At the end of the day the most frequented properties are exposed to the audience itself, that has shown its longings and needs.

Usha Seejarim *1974 (ZA)

Trophy Wives | 2020

Installation, Object | Series of 6 pieces, clothes iron bases, wooden backing | 390 x 250 cm

The obvious interpretation of a series of works titled "Trophy Wives" is where an attractive, often young woman serves quite willingly as a status symbol for usually a less attractive and often older man. The stereotype character of this kind of woman is usually one that is averse to or even incapable of fulfilling domestic chores.

This series is about untruth, a pretense, an illusion of love. A relationship for exhibit. At its core, it's about a futile search for acknowledgement and recognition. Its attributes are an uncomfortable juxtaposition of violence and beauty. Decorative and (de)serving, awarded for the superficial, with the deceptive promise of security. Beauty, security, status and image are ironically fleeting conditions.

It's a cold feeling to see the labia shaped out of a used iron, mounted on a trophy board, like a head on a stake. There is no redemption here, no moment of relief; she is pinned there, positioned, cheered on. She may think she chose this position, she may never get out. She's revered and pitied at the same time.

Immy Mali * 1990 (UG)

Dear Marcue love Immy… | 2019

Book Installation with sound | Mixed media artist book, 5 parts | 23,5 x 29 x 4,4 cm (folded), 470 cm (unfolded)

"This is an accordion book with silkscreen print on linen cover. A Kasonko pattern divided in segments is printed on the front cover and back cover of the book. Kasonko is the name of a game I habitually played as a child growing up in playgrounds in the east and central regions of Uganda. The game was/is commonly played by girls. It focuses on physical balance, strategy, and competitiveness and has land ownership as the goal. These are a measure of stability, wealth or power within most Ugandan communities. It is a mirror of society played out by 5-12 year olds (mostly girls) and occasionally teenagers of up to 14 years of age.

Taking from the design of Kasonko, I have created a labyrinth that I envision as a place, which holds most of my childhood memories between the ages of 5-12 years of age and early teenage years. At the end of February 2017, I started writing to Marcue. To my younger self between the ages of approximately five (or less) and twelve years of age in the project Letters to my Childhood (2017-present). A journey that started as images of events from childhood times started to manifest in my work Daddy Can I Play?! (2013), a children's playground made of objects, which a child would not be allowed to play with. A déjà vu of sorts relating to child seduction of play countered by the adult obligation of safeguarding children. These letters have become a way of revisiting childhood events juxtaposed with experiences of my current existence. The 66 letters focus on: the recreations/fictions of remembrance; notions of presence and absence; and the psychological drama of an artist striving to archive they're being." (Immy Mali)

Sonia E Barrett * 1975 (GB/DE/JM)

Telling Time | 2019

Sculpture | Second hand fur, watches, wood limbs | 76 x 54 x 4 cm

"Unseating Western dominant notions of time, having time told to us. I wanted to work over the watch, the gold watch in order to revision an understanding of time that is beyond dominant Capitalist Western thinking but yet close enough to that methodology to be credible and understandable. Children in the West know that you can count the rings of a cross-section of a tree and use that to tell about time. The circles are close to a spiralistic notion of time that I have researched in time concepts on the continent of Africa. In the face of environmental devastation, instead of thinking in minutes, seconds and hours we need to start looking at the time frames that trees give us. We need to be told about time. The watches are pinned on the outside of the jacket unlike aspirational fake watches sold on the street, which are pinned on the inside of a jacket. I see this as a continuation of my work eliding the person, the plant and the animal." (Sonia E. Barrett)

Carolin Koss * 1986 (FI/DE)

The Obedient | 2018

Experimental Short Film | Type: 1-channel video format, Full HD, Dolby Surround Sound | run time: 13:13 min

"The Obedient" portrays a woman who is steered by an invisible force in a dystopian world. Guided by a black cat, she breaks out of her invisible chains and goes on a journey through dark places, hoping to find light. Her environment has a pristine, almost clinical setting, a calculated frame, each frame set up like a series of photos. There is neatness in the arrangement of the set. Yet the meal is messy, it's a battleground, a fight played with invisible characters. She is alone and has to push through the arrangements made for her on the behalf of others. She succeeds to define her own position, her own frame, her own meal and how she intends to eat it.
"The Obedient" is part of larger body of work titled "Emerald Green", which is a three-channel video that was realized over a four-year period. The project is about a dystopian world, where nature has been rendered extinct, breathable air has gotten scarce and the sun has vanished due to exploitation of natural resources and human error. The focus is on three people who try to survive and escape into their sub-consciousness in order to re-imagine and re-build the contaminated world they live in. The video installation is an imaginary reaction to real issues, such as air becoming more and more polluted, water resources running dry, oceans accumulating tons of plastic waste, the human body degrading through processed food, and an obscured force steering the fate of the world.

Ramona Seyfarth * 1980 (DE)

I Am | 2020

Photography | Self portraits braided into carpet | 100 x 180 cm

"I AM", am I? questions the parameters of what defines our identity in relation to our surroundings. The work searches for patterns of self-determination outside the staged selfie optic and places the exemplary ego in a temporal context of now and now and now and... Forty thousand selfies taken in the private space of the bathroom: simultaneously something is being revealed and yet hidden. Braided, overlapped, recreated into carpet, and recreated again into a photograph. The repetition screaming at you to see what binds us, what binds her to herself? In the looking, what is found? The privacy of taking these in the bathroom holds the key. You are entering a private moment, forty thousand private moments at once, each singularly revealing, still all of them together, yet it is still not enough to see the whole person. We never see the whole, just passing moments of ourselves, "It is you who thinks of which I you think of when you say I."

Funding Bodies

WomanIsm wird gefördert im Fonds TURN der 

WomanIsm is funded in the TURN Fund of the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany.

Cooperation partner

Nairobi, Kenya