Infinity: Flashes of the Past

Archival Installation
Concept

Together they represent the key categories which constructed the colonial image of Kenya to a British public keen to be simultaneously horrified, seduced, and vindicated. On the one hand, these consist of ethnographic ‘types’, missionary propaganda, official images from British royal tours, or colonial atrocities perpetrated under British colonial rule…On the other hand, images from a newly independent Kenya, of presidential social functions and official troops inspections produce another kind of fiction. The colonial archive and its successor’s meaning are transformed through Kyambi’s reconfigured combinations… Kyambi has intentionally segued interruptions to the official accounts presented through familiar public genres by inserting scenes of private domesticity in unexpected context…Deliberately mixing together images from such different categories produces a tension which serves to shift the monolithic character of most commemorative sculpture.” 

Annie Coombes Coombes, Annie, Lotte Hughes, Karega-Munene. Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya. I.B. Tauris. 2014

The images used in this permanent photographic installation were scanned from the Nairobi National Museum’s archive department. I sourced through the records going as far back as 1898 till current times. Images in the piece were used to combine normal everyday life with political figures and monumental moments in Kenya’s history.

It was important for me that the viewer sees several images at once. Looking at photography from the camera mans point of view – the idea that we never really see the whole picture, just flashes of one person’s perspective. The octagon shaped mirror of which these photographs hang also gives another dimension to the work, not only do viewers see themselves in this history but also the work becomes infinite, the past our constant reminder.
FORMAT

Installation:
Octagon shaped mirror, chain-link wooden glass frames and scanned archive photographs from the Nairobi National Museum Archive.
YEAR

2007
SIZE

450 x 120 x 45 cm
EXHIBITED

Permanent Collection
Nairobi National Museum