Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

“Art is essentially impactful and has the ability to inspire people profoundly.”

– Tahir Karmali, FINALIST


This artwork tackles the complexities of nationality, authenticity, documentation, and the creation of borders across Africa. In consideration of the migrant Indian population in East Africa who settled in the 1890s, and as a Kenyan who is widely travelled, Karmali used paper as a central device to discuss topics around legitimacy and validation.

Paper can make one’s world very limiting – depending on the visas and papers that one holds. Karmali explores this through his paper-making process – the paper is embedded with photos, patterns, thread, and quotations from ID documents used during colonial and post-independence Kenya. Papermaking involves filtration of the pulp from the water, and reflects how documents are used in border separation – a poetic metaphor used to trigger questioning around the notions of authenticity, nationality, borders, colonialism and history.

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