Beauty and the Norm


Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth hosted a conference that brought together academics from various universities in Europe and North America who presented their research finding on various topics that added to the debate around the standardization of beauty. I wanted to take this time to absorb the information but also respond to the conference using performative actions. I see these responses as works in progress that can hopefully lead to a new body of work. 

The first performance that I did on the morning of the starting day of the conference was set in front of large dressing table with mirror. I used skin foundation of lighter and darker tones, adding these tones to my face. In the process I was reminded about how we have to navigate and negotiate how we are perceived differently when lighter or darker. When I lived in Mombasa and had a bit of a tan and it surprised me that I was asked if I come from Taita, in a space where I am normally seen as a European. This is just one example of such situations, which we can all relate to in different ways. 

The second performance I did on the last day of the conference and I used foundation closest to my skin tones and black eye liner. I went through a process of marking my face with the five lines counting system. The areas I marked on my face are ones that I am uncomfortable with as well as areas that have been repeatedly pointed out to me by others as either something I should change or notice as a problem. During the performance I repeatedly marked these sites, covering them up and remarking them.

Performance Installation



Dimensions Variable

Iwalewahaus, Universit├Ąt Bayreuth, Germany