Rear View

Photography by James Muriuki

Muriuki’s attention to detail is particular and a necessary ingredient in his work. Through all this focus on the specific, there remains a bigger picture with its own distinct presence. A feeling of self within space – the loner – the observer – the one who is present and yet absent, a sense which tends to linger throughout his works.

“What is contemporary African photography?” The question should really be: “who is James Muriuki the photographer?” The days of pigeonholing “African art” must end. It narrows the expectations on artists from Africa. Muriuki is an artist whose images do not make sense only from within an ‘African’ context. When will the work start speaking for itself? Are we doomed to this fake hype, where “Contemporary African Art” exhibits continually perpetuate a stereotype - constantly rekindling the ‘explorers’ perspective on what or who is African?

Muriuki’s work crosses boundaries. Geographic locations are ignored, instead spaces are deeply explored; here experimental work prevails. The photographs remind the viewer that things are moving, changing, transforming – becoming present and disappearing. Stuffed into one capsule; the shutter - the lens - the camera - the digital print, right here, in front of you.
“Photography is a medium that is accessible to many. In urban areas, advertising takes over: often poor photography of limited technical competence.

When I started taking pictures, the most intriguing thing was the technical ability to single out objects and present them differently. It was a lovely time as I strived to experiment, looking for alternative views of my world. When a few people noticed how much I was experimenting and the enthusiasm I had, they started feeding me with ‘the way they could have taken the picture’ and ‘the way other people have taken the picture.’

The digital camera explosion came into my world in 2004. I bought my first digital SLR; believing this was a better camera. I got into the habit of measurebating: megapixels, clarity, memory, photoshop-ing etc. Little did I realize this could also take away from the core of photography. For me experiments are always a means to express one’s self-knowledge and an attempt to discover new dimensions and alternatives. It gets a little confusing when there is expectation built upon practitioners of photography. Hopefully through this exhibition we can have different audiences access the experiments with no particular expectation, needing judgment, hope and understanding – but purely to let the experience in the space be its own self.”
James Muriuki