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Kapwani Kiwanga’s Alien Speculations

Author(s): Steingo, Gavin

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Abstract: This paper examines the work of Paris-based artist Kapwani Kiwanga (b. Canada, 1978), whose work is marked by an innovative combination of techniques from visual art, performance, and social science. I focus on Kiwanga’s performance piece, The Deep Space Scrolls, which engages concepts of the human and the extraterrestrial through a speculative approach to African history. I argue that in rethinking histories of African exploitation and oppression Kiwanga avoids the easy path—namely, the affirmation of an unreconstructed humanism—and instead turns towards the alien and the unknown. While paying close attention to the details of Kiwanga’s performance style, I suggest that her work can only be adequately grasped by considering multiple distinct theoretical discourses, including Afrofuturism, Speculative Realism, and Afro-pessimism.
Publication Date: 3-Nov-2017
Citation: Steingo, G. (2017). Kapwani Kiwanga’s Alien Speculations. Images Re-vues [En ligne], 14
Pages: 1-20
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Images Re-vues [En ligne]
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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