Bleed Onto the Page

BleedOnThePageAt the end of a long day at the Goethe/SSDA Flow Workshops, I feel like I’m back in secondary school. My hands– all of our hands– have been running across paper all day, responding to prompts that our facilitator, Muthoni Garland reads out from the front of the room. We read texts and respond to them. We break off for tea and lunch around our table and have the chance to speak with one another.

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Some Thoughts On The Nest’s “Tuko Macho”

TukoMachoTheNestCollectiveImage: Tuko Macho trailer (Facebook)

There are many things that I like about Tuko Macho. I like that it was made by the same people who created Stories of Our Lives. I like the visual quality, even as I lack the words to describe why exactly. I like the scene in the trailer and the starting credits of the first episode where a parade of askaris are sitting together and one of them breaks the unison of the group to stare directly and dramatically into the camera. And I like that in the closing credits of every episode of Tuko Macho, the phrase “events, people depicted in this series are entirely fictional” appears. Because this disclaimer is not true and it is also not false. Here’s the thing: Tuko Macho delights in taking binaries– fiction/nonfiction, good guy/bad guy, right/ wrong– mixing them up with gorgeous cinematography and acting and then spitting them out so that they are no longer recognizable. This insistence on complexity and on blurring the lines of morality and of storytelling is highlighted even more when placed against the black and white version of justice spearheaded by Biko/Jonah, protagonist/anti-hero of the show.

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In Which I Play Around With a Camera

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I define myself as “not a spatially intelligent/ visually intelligent” person. By which I mean, while words slide out of my lips and onto paper with relative ease, visual creativity eludes me. I don’t paint, draw, or take photographs. Sometimes when restless I doodle, and I suspect I once might have had some drawing talent but it’s so underdeveloped that I sometimes doubt my memories of that time. But a few weeks back I had the chance to borrow a camera from Tom Vandas of the Heroine Portrait series. I discovered something that I already knew: taking good photos is about more than just clicking a button, and that there are lots of technical details that take a lot of practice to figure out. Cue Pay Your Artists service announcement.

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Where Have I Seen this Painting Before?

Photos by Kevin Tosh.

“Where have I seen this painting before?”

I’m standing in one of the upstairs rooms of The Art Space gallery when this thought occurs to me. It’s the opening night of David Thuku’s and Michael Musyoka’s exhibition “This for That”. I’ve never met either of the artists before, so it completely blows my mind when I’m hit by a deeply intense feeling of deja vu the moment I walk up the stairs and into this room. While I’m standing there trying to figure it out, Tosh quickly places his finger on why it seems so familiar. Continue Reading

“Stories of the City”: A profile of Elias Mung’ora.

Featuring Elias Mung’ora; Photographs by Kevin Tosh.

Part I: The Meeting.

EM6I first met Elias Mung’ora at January’s dusitD2 Nairobi Gallery Exhibition. I noticed his work as the evening was coming to an end, and the first painting that I saw evoked… something I can’t really explain… in me. It was a scene from the city, and I could almost imagine myself standing within the painting as I looked at it: waiting to cross Wabera Street and watching vehicles approach and people walk towards Steers and Trattoria on the other side. But then there was also a green haze hanging over the scene, making it feel like the whole thing would have been happening in a dream.

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On Surfaces and Depth.

Ichyulu3Photographs: Kevin Tosh.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now (although I suppose another way to say it would be that I’ve been “lulling over this post”). You know when you have so many thoughts that the only way to put them in words is to write them down, but then writing them down only makes them feel more and more confused and at some point you’re kinda tripping over everything and you can’t really tell whether there’s a point or whether the point will be legible to anyone reading except for yourself or whether even *you* can actually see the point? Well. Yes. That.

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(Red) Letter Day.

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Photographs by Kevin Tosh.

Location: The Murumbi African Heritage Collections.

This weekend my sisters and I were invited over to dinner at a cousin’s. It’s one of those situations where it’s a distant cousin– our gukas (grandparents) were cousins, which technically makes us third or fourth cousins (?) and while we’d seen each other once or twice at family get togethers, we hadn’t really had the chance to hang out. When our parents were our age, though, they roomed together for a bit, which gave the whole scene a feeling of deja vu, like history was replaying itself during our dinner. Our cousin is also newly married, which meant that we were meeting his wife for the first time. You know when you find yourself sitting with a couple that’s so beautifully in love that it just kind of extends throughout the room to everyone? That was the experience of dinner, and I’m still moved by the warmth of your love for one another, and by the genuine way in which you welcomed us into your home. So, to M and D, before I go any further, thank you for dinner, for wonderful conversation and for sharing the story of your love.

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Living History: An Introduction.

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Photography by Kevin Tosh.

Location: The Murumbi African Heritage Collections.

When I was growing up, I wasn’t much of a fan of history lessons. It was interesting but ultimately all too tedious to memorize the names, the dates, the numbers. I was always much more interested in the stories of these people than in the collective stories, which meant that I ended up choosing geography for my final exam– which wasn’t that much more interesting but for some reason the prospect of memorizing rock names was a little less daunting than of memorizing the entire history of Kenya.Continue Reading

Enchanted

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Photos by Tosh.

Words by Wanjiku.

Concept and direction by Agnes Agada.

Some spaces that carry magic in them, simmering with the promise of stories. If you listen carefully to the trees whispering, the water roaring, the birds humming, at first everything sounds like separate strains of meaningless noise but keep listening and watching and the music starts to form before your eyes.

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A Little Taste of Fear

Kigali9Photos: Kevin Tosh. 

The first few minutes of the new year found me riding on the back of a moto (motorcycle) in Kigali, my black scarf waving behind me, tulle skirt shaking in the wind. As we zipped down the road from Remera to Kimihurura, on either side of us you could see the hills rising, on their faces painted white and orange dots: white ones from the street lights on either side of the roads that wind their way around Kigali, the orange ones likely filament light bulbs inside and outside the homes. Kigali was a lot of things, and while my first post was a lot of gushing, there were a few things here and there that I did not like, as is the case with every experience. But all in all, it was some much needed time away, and almost as soon as I was back in Nairobi I found myself intensely craving the adventure of travel again.

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