AN OFFERING BY KENYAA MZEE - 6 OCTOBER 2022

Date: Thursday 6 October 2022

Time: 17:00 - 21:00

Youngblood Gallery
70-74 Bree Street
Cape Town

ARTIST STATEMENT :

Aptly named after a poem written by the artist, “When water covers your head- Breathe Sis, You Won’t Drown”, is a most vulnerable visual collection of artworks narrating Kenyaa’s delicate, fluid-like journey, as well as relationship with mental health. 

At a time of intense unsettlement and insecurity globally, Kenyaa’s offering opens up conversations surrounding coping mechanisms with sadness, anxiety, depression and stagnation in a time where stability and contentment present as luxuries one only hopes to attain.

Spanning themes from ‘religious trauma’, ‘sexuality’ and ‘self image’, Kenyaa’s portrayal of, as she puts it, "not waving but neither drowning; somewhere in between '' provides a thirst quenching take on the unpredictable journey of what it feels like to fall apart and slowly piece oneself back together. She reminds us to breathe through it all, that the moment is but a sailing one; that we will not drown.

The exhibition, consisting of 7 large scale artworks each detailing different parts of her story, flow into personal audio files where listeners are invited into the artist's mind as she pours her thoughts and reads excerpts from her personal notes through the decade. 

The final offering, an installation titled “Where I Laid My Head and Prayed For the End”, Kenyaa posits her personal bed as an altar. Here, she embraces the idea that the hours, days, weeks, months and years she spent in her bed unable to stay afloat are not only sacred, but holy. That even in your darkest hour, the stigma and shame of mental illness is not your portion, rather the opposite.

As is the case with all her works, Kenyaa aims to move ‘beyond the wall’. She aims to transcend the realm of photography and conceptual visual art by sparking constructive dialogue surrounding the themes at play. For her, the end goal is to always lobby for positive change and build societies that strive to be cognisant of each other's lived experiences. ~ Words by Onke Ngcuka