Anthony Muisyo, Illustration for the upcoming publication “More Than Words” – a collection of illustrated queer stories by the Nest Collective, Courtesy of the artist
The NEST Collective. Stories of Our Lives
Sep 30, 2023 – Feb 4, 2024
Athens, Greece

EMΣΤ is pleased to present Stories of Our Lives: in Search of Queer Sanctuaries, a site-specific installation by the multi-disciplinary Nest Collective created especially for the Museum. Through their long-term engagement with Kenya’s queer and cross-identity community, the collective has witnessed the violent, discriminatory treatment that Kenyan, African and Black people continue to face, the resistance and strategies deployed to counter it, as well as the collective, eternal determination to hope and fight for a better future and equal rights. Queer expressions in Kenya – caught up as they are in various discourses of law, religion, desire, nationhood, fantasy, language, aspirations and cultural codes – remain an important way to push back against harmful and cyclical narratives targeted at the queer community in Kenya and across the world. Through this presentation of photographs, illustrations, soundscapes and excerpts of words transcribed from hundreds of intimate conversations, the project aims to contextualise queer expressions in Kenya, usefully teasing out the inherent contradictions of queer life in Africa, in order to engender a contemporary understanding of the country’s lived realities.

Alongside the archive, the collective presents Stories of Our Lives, an anthology film based on a collection of stories about Kenya’s LGBTIQA+ community. The film was made in partnership with East African minority rights resource Uhai/EASHRI and South African film company Big World Cinema. Upon release in 2014 it was rejected for distribution and screening in Kenya by the Kenya Film Classification Board, which was an effective ban, on the grounds that it “promotes homosexuality, which is contrary to national norms and values” of Kenya. Stories of Our Lives, has remained banned in Kenya until today.

The exhibition at EMΣT is the second part of the presentation of the work of the Nest collective, whose major outdoor installation, Return to Sender, shown at the park of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) is co-produced by the two institutions (until 30.09.23). During their time in Athens, the NEST collective added new material to the existing film, including interviews with key sustainable fashion industry actors in Greece.

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