Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title


People relate more through social media platforms in our progressively technological society. We at ART AFRICA are extending an invitation to artists from the African diaspora to use our Instagram account as a platform to give us their viewpoint as an artist, showcase their work, art-making process, studios and current exhibitions.

Tahir Karmali is born & raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He is one of our Bright Young Things of 2017. He is an acclaimed artist, who Tahir took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his process, displacement and collaboration.




ART AFRICA: You’ve recently did an Instagram take over with ART AFRICA. How did you find curating a digital space while chronicling your time during this?

It was exciting. It think it is a matter of being turned on about sharing the practice and process. I definitely liked the idea of sharing other things that were happing in New York at the same time. The shows I liked and Artists I respected. It was also great to see how a different audience would react to your work.


Do you take a similar approach when documenting your own work?

It think I should be more active about documenting my practice. I have been trying to make videos etc. but Instagram stories are a lot easier to do.




Your work appears to be, though presented simply, created in a rather labour intensive and process driven (as in the case of your paper works). Would you care to elaborate on the process of development of your pieces?

I really believe in process and states of change. I think that as we develop ideas around using found objects or specific materials to make commentary I would prefer to see these things go through a state of change. Then for the reason behind that process to be conceptually or metaphorically tied to the subject the artists is discussing. I feel we have see a lot of assemblage and the lumping of found materials too much – though I love it, I think we need to build on it


The paper making is an interesting metaphor. You’ve stated the analogous relationship of the separation of pulp and liquid to that of borders and immigration traffic. This is a rather poignant message in our current[global] political climate. Tell us more about this.

I think with regards to art making its a bit performative and I like that. Stripping down the material to remove it’s power to create these light and simple process abstractions for me is very satisfying. With regards to it’s relevance to politics – I feel it is a result of just being and creating work from my experience.




For Jua Kali you collaborated with Tonney Mugo and Dennis Muragi. What influenced your decision and how do you approach the endeavour of collaboration?

I thought what better way to create a sculpture with a formally trained glass artist and a found object artist to discuss the relationship between the formal economy and informal sector.


You can view the ART AFRICA Takeover here and support the artists Instagram here.

FEATURED IMAGE: Image is an installation shot from his exhibition, PAPER/work at Pioneer Works.

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