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PRESS RELEASE: How do you perceive space in the absence of built constructions? How can a living unit be defined without permanent architectural demarcations? How is the notion of home place understood when inhabiting portable temporary structures? Josefina Muñoz, Chilean mixed-media artist, travelled to the Ilemi Triangle (disputed land between Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan) where she lived with the Turkana nomads for two months and experienced the complexity of nomadic pastoralist life. Transient [inspired by Turkana] showcases a selection of drawings, photography, light boxes, and installation work depicting the notion of impermanence. Through the usage of diverse media and processes, Muñoz explores the idea of private space, ownership, and mobility, highlighting at the same time the splendor of one of Kenya’s most secluded cultures. For more information please visit www.josefinamunoz.net or contact the artist at josefinamunoz@gmail.com You and your media house are invited to attend. To confirm attendance or book transport to venue please contact Sheila Akwany Public Relations Office Kuona Trust, Centre for Visual Arts Mobile: (+254) 721 262 326


Transient [Inspired by Turkana]


The Nairobi National Museum Cultural Dynamism Gallery (2nd Floor)


6th May 2014



Temporary Structures Series © Joel Lukhovi


The Turkana nomadic pastoralists differentiate from other nomads in Africa and Eurasia by their complete lack of tents. These communities use a hodological orientation system to build their houses (akai) and fenced compounds from naturally available materials at each migration cycle. In the Temporary Structures series, Muñoz employs the Turkana building methods to reference the divergence between private and public space. These fragile buildings intend to demarcate a futile private space for their occupant, where only a set of unstable mechanical joints separates an inside from an outside.

AKAI | HOUSE (photography)

The architectural influence that stimulates Josefina’s work, lead her to develop a strict analysis of the Turkana house. Through the photography series Akai | House the artist presents a selection of permanent and temporary houses that serve to exemplify the uniqueness of each of these forms.

PROVISIONAL FORM (photography)

In the photography series Provisional Form, Muñoz presents a selection of Turkana wooden structures that are used as outdoor kitchen shelves. These nest-like arrangements are constructed by women to keep their cooking utensils out of the reach of animals and at a comfortable handling level.

MOVABLES (light boxes)

The Turkana live with scarce belongings, in total symbiosis with the environment. When the family migrates, all the household utensils are placed in the asajeit, on the donkey. Nevertheless, the family belongings, the few personal, precious possessions are kept and transported on those metal boxes that kids take to boarding school.

365 LITERS OF WATER (installation)

“Studies (*) state that a person performing hard work in the sun requires 19 liters of water daily. Nevertheless, sometimes I spent weeks using an average of 1 liter a day” Muñoz states. The installation 365 Liters of Water presents an agglomeration of plaster pieces obtained from the inner space of multiple jerrycans. These components represent a total of 365 liters of water, namely, the amount of water that a person could use in a year (or a really nice bath). (*)US Army Survival Manual

365 Liters of Water © Josefina Muñoz

REVIEW We are transient; everything we do is meant to be transient too and we know it, perhaps with two exceptions: art and home. Artists have tried for ages –from cave paintings to video installations, through representation or allegory– to grab and give permanence to what otherwise is fleeting, while cultures all over the world have built structures supposed to last longer than their inhabitants. Muñoz’s exhibit problematizes both art and home precarious permanencies. In Western contemporary societies the illusion of a home of one’s own is still the main dream behind hard work and the origin of the last economic crisis with global consequences. Its paradox comes from the rigidness of the idea of real estate and belonging to just one unmovable place, when everything else in our fast societies is constantly changing: the traffic of goods –programmed to be soon obsolete–, money, private and collective ownership and even human relationships throughout the social axis of what we understand and accept as gender and family, for instance. We see old buildings being destroyed and renewed all the time, we see that houses are temporary constructions; we inhabit them shortly and yet assume ourselves to be sedentary, as opposed to the Turkana. The materials in Muñoz’s works are fragile and not build to last, in symbiosis with the nomadic references. She has stand out for her glass art, and now strikes with sticks and drawings determined by the environment and weather. Women build the Turkana houses; Muñoz resembles them and her pieces are not hermetic, what means the person is never totally inside or outside the sculpture, but in both places at a time. So what may seem a cell is also an open field where the light gets in and remains. A house can be a thing. A home is more ethereal. And once left behind, is very difficult to really belong to a new place or to come back and feel in the former as though it was never left. Movement itself generates statelessness. Is not the artist herself a Nomad? Which is her home? A place where we can always find her, a mail or social network account that can be managed from anywhere, portable pieces of art? After traveling much, places appear similar to each other and individuals make the only difference. People moving to where they can find enough of the grass they need or in the case of a few luckier, the grass they want. Traveling with less. Transient is not a journey to the past but to the future of what we understand as home. Thanks to the Turkana. Enrique Winter New York, April 2014

Temporary Structures © Josefina Muñoz

Profile for Josefina Muñoz

Josefina Muñoz | Nairobi National Museum | Transient [inspired by Turkana]  

Press release + exhibition features + review

Josefina Muñoz | Nairobi National Museum | Transient [inspired by Turkana]  

Press release + exhibition features + review