Fracture (i)


Through history, mankind has always tried to increase his capacities, tools gave him extra strength, weapons gave him extra force, the engine allowed him to carry heavier things, but it’s the first time in humankind that we have devices which are not about the physical strength but about mental strength. In the postcolonial discourse, the key question is, who is in the fore in accessing tools of developing one's mental strength? 

In the 21st century, are our old references to the industrial revolution still valid? What is deemed good, what is treated as a right, what is deemed wrong, where does the African contemporary go from here? References in these fast mutating societies are hard to find, and this is where Syowia’s work Fracture (i) is placing itself; addressing transformations in her society, where does one stand as a woman, as a human being? How do you adapt to the fast economic transformations and the social norms the economies bear? In Kenya and specifically the capital city, Nairobi, there is a narrow view of what it is to be successful. Generally, success is measured with materialism that stems from western capitalistic ideals.

 This current construction includes a past value system based on a communal identity, the result often creating violent and vulnerable circumstances. Syowia uses her history to explain what is coming. Her work Fracture (i) has a reference to colonialism, references to transformation, and the contemporary situation. It navigates the society – the idea of what you should be or what you shouldn’t be, how you present yourself, how people assume you’re this or that. 

The sisal costume used at the beginning of the performative element in the work was developed using the traditional Kamba weaving method used for making kiondo’s , referencing to both traditional crafts as well as the colonial sisal plantations. The plantations enforced limitation on black Kenyans, taking away their right to establish financial security and therefore denying them power. In her performance, it was important for Syowia to have a covered head specifically during the destruction phase of stepping on the clay vessels, symbolic to the current state of dissolving Kenya’s heritage: the destruction of a life force.

Installation & Performance, duration 2 hours 30 minutes

2011 - 2016


Approx. 8 x 14 m

The Kouvola Art Museum, Finland, 2011

WIELS, Belgium 2015

49 nord 6 est - Frac Lorraine, France, 2015

Konsthalle Lund, Sweden, 2015

EVA Biennale, Ireland, 2016