Temporary Exhibition: Community

“Community” is the theme taken up by DUOS Festival pairings of artists from Kenya and from Poland, who are celebrating the culture of the country's coastal region as part of the “Transcultural Perspectives in Art and Art Education” (TPAAE) project that aims to shine a light on shared influences in art made in Africa and in Europe. The works on display at the National Museum in Szczecin first were shown in Kilifi, a town on Kenya's Indian Ocean coastline that is the locus of several TPAAE initiatives.

Working in partnership with an array of international institutions, the DUOS Festival exchanges are curated by professors from the Academy of Art in Szczecin and feature month-long workshops for artists and educators. Artists from Poland travelled to Kenya earlier this year and their counterparts are spending a month in Szczecin to learn more about the city, the institutions participating in the TPAAE project and the Polish art scene. 

Art Academy professors Zorka Wollny and Łukasz Jastrubczak curated the DUOS Festival “Community”, which took place in March. Focused on the Giriama tribal culture in the area around Kilifi Creek, the exhibition showcased the works of local and internationally renowned artists and the students from Pwani University they enlisted in making works for the show.

Also located in Kilifi, Pwani University will offer degree programs in fine art and design that TPAAE partners, including Kenyatta University in Nairobi and the Università degli Studi di Macerata, Italy, are creating as part of the project. The Art Academy in Szczecin is spearheading TPAAE, which also is training elementary school teachers in KIDS Session workshops conducted by educators from University in Macerata that run alongside DUOS Festival exchanges. 

Works on show at the NMS Contemporary Art Museum in Szczecin are the result of direct contact and cooperation by DUOS Festival artists and the Giriama community, including:

Choreographer Anna Nowicka's collaboration with the “Simba Wanga” dance group, who together developed a performance based on the origins of the Giriama Revolt of 1913–1914. The duo pays tribute to Mekatilili wa Menza, a grandmother and tribal elder whose opposition to conscription for Britain's forces in the Great War prefaced the end of Colonial rule in Kenya a half-century later.

Clips from a documentary by filmmakers Małgorzata Mazur with Zippy Kimundu, who recorded preparations for the DUOS Festival by the performers of  “Zaire Ngome Msaga Pore”. The troupe is made up of community members, who work to preserve Giriama culture through music and dance.

Photographs of a mural created by graffiti artist Piotr Pauk and sign painter Mohamed Mbwena Omar in Mnarani, a Kilifi suburb. Painted on the wall of a local elementary school, the work borrows imagery from Kenyan banknotes to convey values of knowledge and work.

Pieces and photographs from a fashion event produced by photographer Emilia Łapko and designer Wacu Kihara. Sewn by local tailors, pieces created for the show that took place on a Kilifi side-street combine traditional khanga fabric and Polish linen. 

A tribute to the coconut palm by photographers Witek Orski and Biko Wesa, whose installation celebrates the tree's centrality in Giriama culture. In addition to hanging works on frame constructed from trunks, the duo offered home-brewed "mnazi", a wine made from fermented coconut that's illegal in Kenya, to festival attendees. 

A testimony in painting and sculpture to the power of love that takes fossilised remains of the earliest humans as its starting point. Created by painters Zbigniew Rogalski and Richard Onyango, the installation features recreations of bones found in Kenya and pictogram illustration of the stages of modern life to illustrate connections and bonds that perpetuate the species.

Works from a temporary Arts Center created on the site of a village school that local activists Said Chengo and Mramba Mweni are building in their area to serve children whose parents cannot otherwise provide for their children's education. Anna Orlikowska and Łukasz Jastrubczak worked with local painter and educator Castro Osore to offer programs, including a trompe l'oeil landscape painted on a wall at the Seahorse Dockers School that was built by Pwani University, which appropriated land nearby for future expansion.

Works from the “Community” DUOS Festival are presented alongside those from a second DUOS Festival iteration themed on "Women Power” and curated by Zorka Wollny and Ciro G., a community activist from Kilifi and leader of a coastal women's art collective. A third DUOS Festival is planned for 2022 as part of TPAAE, whose main goal is the exchange of experiences in the fields of traditional and contemporary art in Poland and Kenya through mutual learning about artistic practices and forms of artistic education. Additional partners include Distant Relatives Events, Ltd., in Kilifi and, since next year, the Technical University in Mombasa.

A pair of collateral exhibitions accompany the showing of DUOS Festival works. They include: 

Said Luganje Kahindi painting “African Mask Girl”, which depicts a modern-day image of East African life. Working under the nickname Gendo, the Pwani University student won a competition for young artists organised under the DUOS Festival events.

Italian artist Christian Niccoli's video installation entitled “Two”, which illustrates mutual dependence in the form of protagonists bound together with rope. The Berlin-based artist illustrates in a metaphorical way how much we all depend on each other – as individuals and communities.

Events accompanying the DUOS Festival exhibition at the National Museum in Szczecin are free of charge and include:

- November 4 at 13.00 – meeting with Joyce Kinyanjui, Chief Curator of the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, National Museum in Szczecin, Wały Chrobrego (the meeting will be translated from English into Polish)

- November 4 at 19.00 – poetry and music performance by Shangazi Masika and Alicja Pilarczyk with the participation of Zespół Muzyki Współczesnej Akademii Sztuki w Szczecinie, the National Museum in Szczecin – Museum of Contemporary Art, Staromłyńska 1

- November 13 at 17.00-18.00 – meeting with artists and curators, guided tour of the exhibition, the National Museum in Szczecin - Museum of Contemporary Art, Staromłyńska 1

- November 14 at 17.00-18.00 – meeting with artists and curators, guided tour of the exhibition, the National Museum in Szczecin - Museum of Contemporary Art, Staromłyńska 1

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The National Museum in Szczecin – The Museum of Contemporary Art 

1 Staromłyńska Street, Szczecin, Poland 

Artists: Zippy Kimundu & Małgorzata Mazur, Castro Osore & Anna Orlikowska, Wacu Kihara & Emilia Łapko, Mohamed Mbwana Omar & Piotr Pauk, Biko Wesa & Witek Orski, Simba Wanga & Anna Nowicka, Richard Onyango & Zbigniew Rogalski; Mramba Mweni, Said Chengo & Łukasz Jastrubczak, Said Luganje Kahindi, Christian Niccoli

Curators: Marlena Chybowska-Butler, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Zorka Wollny 

Cooperation: Ewa Prądzyńska 

Text: Marlena Chybowska-Butler, Łukasz Jastrubczak 

Proofreading: Rick Butler 


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 872718. 



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