The careful negotiation between self-definition and societal expectations propel this two-part video work from the Nairobi-based artist. Chuchu is the central subject of both films. In Invocation: The Severance of Ties, Chuchu’s body spins and splits as he struggles to define himself in relation to history, country, and other universal human categories. The phrases “This is not your name” and “I am not your son” flash across the screen and are intoned rhythmically to the accompanying soundtrack composed by the artist. In Invocation: Release, the artist unfolds, exhales, and appears to accept the self he has become in the present and for the future. Both videos draw upon imagery from global religions, like Hinduism, as well as the transformational actions of initiation rites practiced by diverse communities across the vast African continent. The two films loop repeatedly, suggesting the continuous struggle of each new generation as they seek self-definition within the traditions and expectations into which they were born.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website