First monograph of the Kenyan artist, with two essays by Delphine Lopez and Dawit L. Petros.
"In Of Ghostly Silences and Constant Yearnings, I make inquiries into the ideas of place and belonging in post colonial Africa. In my investigation, I make time travels through historical photographs and maps, reappropriating them here into a series of serigraphs and tapestries.
Efforts to reconfigure this past through these historical materials present many challenges coming from their integrity and the violent nature in which they were of ten initially constituted. Infinite latencies of repressed narratives that lie against the grain present a continued urgency in the work of mining these histories. In the process, the language of the ghostly has slowly revealed itself to me. 'There exists no unified representation of the postcolonial. Any turn we make towards aesthetics will inevitably return to a language of the ghostly. A language that defines that incapacity to name the disturbance of an arrested gaze' (T. J. Demos, The Politics and Aesthetics of Migration in Contemporary Art). I continue to lean into the aesthetic of a haunt to activate agency, opacity and the fantastic.
More than anything, these gestures are not attempts to heal these histories but an investigation on how they continue to haunt the present. 'Haunting does not hope to change people's perception nor does it hope for reconciliation, haunting lies precisely in its refusal to stop' (Eve Tuck & C. Ree, Handbook of Auto-ethnography).
It is with this haunting that I re-enter the archive."
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Abidjan, in 2022.
Jess Atieno (born 1991 in Nairobi, lives and works in Chicago) maintains a practice informed by inquiries on place, home and dispossession through the lens of the postcolonial. Atieno sees herself as carrying inscriptions of a colonial past. Studying as an adult in the US made her increasingly unable to situate herself in a static reality of belonging. With this inspiration, Atieno time travels into history through its material remains: historical photographs, maps and documents, employing them in prints, installations and tapestry. She turns to the idea of place as the transformative site of hybridity that offers alternative strategies for and models of representation within the post-colonial.