This article examines two projects by artists living and working in Nairobi. It asks questions about how these artists are visualizing or otherwise materializing in their work the specificity of their contemporary geopolitical and geocultural situation in relation to capitalism. How might this specificity allow these artists to elucidate aspects of contemporary capitalism’s cultural logic that are all too often invisible to people living in other parts of the world? How might it allow them to reframe or gain new traction on what Fredric Jameson once called a “radical cultural politics,” an operation that presupposes, in much Marxist and post-Marxist analysis, an ability to represent one’s location within the system of contemporary capitalism?
Beyond the “NGO Aesthetic”
Jennifer Bajorek is assistant professor of comparative literature at Hampshire College and a research associate in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She teaches and writes on literature, philosophical aesthetics, and photography. She is the author of Counterfeit Capital (2009) and How to Write a Visual History of Liberation: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in Africa (forthcoming).