Queering the Kanga. Spekulatives Gewebe in Kawira Mwirichias To Revolutionary Type Love

Ulrike Bergermann

Abstract


Kenyan artist Kawira Mwirichia startet her project with the title To Revolutionary Type Love in 2016 and plans to finish it in 2020: By then, the series will present one kanga honoring the queer movement of each nation of the world. A kanga is a traditional cloth in East African countries, where homosexuality is criminalized – so using the form and look of a kanga is a political as well as artistic appropriation, bringing the topic of queer love and human rights if not into the everyday openly, so at least into the public space of art places. As the history of the kanga itself is a history of appropriating the Portuguese (colonial) textile for East African’s Swahili women’s culture at the end of the 19th century, Mwirichia’s kanga designs not only link the present to this chapter of the colonial past, but also use her “speculative design“ to relate to a possible future, where revolutionary love will have its space.

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