Grace Ndiritu explores the transformation of our contemporary world, affected by globalization and environmental justice, through performances, films, photography, collage, along with social practice projects with refugees, migrants and indigenous groups.
Trained in both textile art and esoteric studies such as shamanism, her practice questions how contemporary art can be used as a tool to activate good in the world. The artist only spends time in the city when necessary, and otherwise expands her research through living in rural, alternative, nomadic lifestyles and often spiritual communities (Buddhist monasteries, permaculture communities, New Age groups, ...).
She also examines issues of commoning, customary law (set of customs, practices and beliefs that are accepted as obligatory rules of conduct by indigenous peoples), and indigenous land rights to reflect on property relationships, in both western and non-western communities. Along with this expanding research, Grace Ndiritu posits that using the museum as a performative platform within the human history of gift-giving will attempt to heal the distrust by Western people to trust non-western methodologies in the aftermath of genocide, slavery and colonialism.
The artist perceives esoteric studies and practices as a way to reframe the art space as a place for sharing, participation and ethics. All of this is experienced in artworks such as A Meal For My Ancestors (as part of the project Healing The Museum, ongoing since 2012) which included staff members of the United Nations, NATO and EU Parliament, activists, and refugees at Thalielab, Brussels (2018). A paper on climate change and refugees directly inspired by the performance, written by one of the participants, has been published by the EU Parliament Research Services.
As part of her ongoing project Healing The Museum, and in collaboration with Caveat's new chapter Emptor, Grace Ndiritu developed a site-specific body of work and research. Entitled Ghent: How To Live Together, it examines how the site of the former Caermersklooster (currently comprising Kunsthal in Ghent), where the interests of the different people and institutions who use or own the site are in conflict, can serve as a model for the practice of commoning.
Historian Hanne Cottyn and anthropologist-historian Rafael Verbuyst have co-authored an article commissioned by Jubilee in the context of Emptor, on the basis of Ndiritu's project. In the civic protest around Het Pand in Ghent, Cottyn and Verbuyst recognise a global trend: local groups are reclaiming heritage as common property. 'How to Live Together in Contested Heritage Sites, from Belgium to Bolivia', 2023
Read about Ghent: How To Live Together on the website of Kunsthal Gent
Read more on Grace Ndiritu's website
Grace Ndiritu (Kenya/UK) studied Textile Art at Winchester School of Art, UK; De Ateliers, Amsterdam 1998-2000: guest tutors included Marlene Dumas (painter), Steve McQueen (film director), Tacita Dean (artist) and Stan Douglas (artist); UK studio residency, Delfina Studio Trust, London (2004-2006), International Residency, Recollets, Paris (2013), MACBA & L'Appartement 22, Rabat, international residency (2014), Galveston Artists Residency, Texas (2014 -2015), Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers, Paris (2016-2017), Thalie Art Foundation, Brussels (2017-2018).
Her archive of over forty 'hand-crafted' videos; experimental photography, painting and shamanic performances have been widely exhibited. Recent solo performances and screenings include Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers, Paris (2016), Glasgow School of Art (2015), Galveston Artists Residency, Texas (2015), Museum Modern of Art, Warsaw (2014), Musee Chasse & Nature and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013), ICA Artist Film Survey, London (2011), Artprojx at Prince Charles Cinema London (2009). Recent solo exhibitions include, Klowden Mann Gallery, Los Angeles (2016), Glasgow School of Art (Turner Prize season 2015); La Ira De Dios, Buenos Aires (2014), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2007), the 51st Venice Biennale (2005) and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2005).
Her work has been featured in Apollo Magazine 40 Under 40 (2014); Phaidon: The 21st Century Art Book (2014) and is also housed in museum collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and private collections such as the Walther Collection, New York and Germany. Her experimental art writing has been published by Animal Shelter Journal Semiotext(e) MIT Press, Metropolis M art magazine and Oxford University Press.
Assembly of Practice #3: Whose institution?
In an encounter with the practices of the different engaged institutions in the project (Kunsthal Gent, Jester, a.pass and BUDA) Emptor explores how ownership plays out within their functioning and affects who has access, what is shown and how we valorise art.
Ghent: How to Live Together with Grace Ndiritu
The province of East Flanders and Woningnet announced plans to sell its part of the building complex of Het Pand and Kunsthal Gent. Grace Ndiritu, together with Jubilee's and Caveat's legal specialist, immersed herself in the history of the former monastery and its users. The collected material can be seen at Kunsthal throughout this autumn and will keep growing.
- Report of Assembly of Practice #3: Whose institution?
- Report of Grace Ndiritu - A Therapeutic Townhall Meeting