Three wooden school desks are pilled in the shape of a skeleton in Onyis Martin’s sculpture for the COMMON GROUNDS exhibition in Bodega Comfama in 2022. The Kenyan artist is deeply interested in issues of freedom, communication, technological development, and consumerism in contemporary urban society. Not only a painter but also a mixed media artist, Onyis Martin uses his private experiences as the departure point for his artworks, which are usually imbricated with an emotional attachment he has with the themes investigated. His COMMON GROUNDS art residency was no different from that: BIRDS SING NOT BECAUSE THEY HAVE ANSWERS BUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE SONGS is his installation’s title and an African proverb.
Exploring how data are received and stored, Onyis Martin’s artwork represents a metaphor for data centers, which allow their servers to recover information and lead investigations. By analyzing the way data interfere with what we become in front of institutional authorities, the Kenyan artist raises the debate around memory and its influence on future projections. This debate is in strong alignment with the Edgelands Institute’s goals of reflecting on the relation between security and freedom, as well as the agency one has in controlling what comes out of data and the uses of digital technology. BIRDS SING NOT BECAUSE THEY HAVE ANSWERS BUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE SONGS is above all a call for a collective building of coherent and human public spaces.
About the artist
About the project
Created by Séverin Guelpa and Anja Wyden Guelpa in collaboration with the Edgelands Institute, MATZA EDGELANDS MEDELLÍN is a project held in Colombia between 31.01 and 17.02.2022. Gathering artists, experts, citizens, and activists together to reflect on contemporary issues, urban dynamics, and social tensions in the heart of Medellín, the project lead to the COMMON GROUND exhibition, which presented original artworks regarding security, digital surveillance, technology, and urbanization.