Nairobi is a city of 5 million people spread over an area of 696 km². Regarded as the leading force and digital hub of East Africa, Nairobi owes its growth to a dynamic and highly qualified youth willing to invest in new technologies.
However, despite its growth, Nairobi grapples with spatial and social divisions. More than 2 million people live in highly densified slums spread across the city. In these areas, the lack of public support, political instability and the absence of economic opportunities have pushed the population to create other forms of mutual aid, cooperation and reciprocity.
MATZA Edgelands hopes to delve deeper into the issues prevalent in other cities, seeking to understand how security, insecurity, surveillance and trust are playing into the social contract of Nairobi’s inhabitants. The project’s methodology involves reverse-engineering: What fundamental elements does a community require to foster a culture of trust and belonging? What does each individual need in order to thrive, feel safe and free? How can digitalization become a real tool to improve the living conditions of a population?
Residency: January 23rd to February 10th 2023
Exhibition: February 10th
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
DIGITAL INFORMALITIES is a full immersion into the informal settlement of Lunga-Lunga. Our objective was to explore and understand how and if digital technologies have contributed to the emergence of new social/economic reciprocities within the community. While digital tools contribute to reinforcing state control or surveillance within the population, we aim to explore how they can also foster opportunities and creative strategies among the residents, ultimately leading to enhanced security and empowerment.
During a compelling 10-day workshop in Mukuru Lunga-lunga, hosted by the esteemed Wajukuu Arts collective, we immersed ourselves in the community. Engaging in visits, meetings, and thought-provoking discussions with experts, community stakeholders, and the residents themselves, we sought to gain a comprehensive understanding of the local dynamics. The following 9 days were then dedicated to the construction of an exhibition presented in the same area. Through this initiative, our primary focus was to delve into the social issues mentioned earlier. Additionally, we examined how artists currently leverage or sometimes misuse digital technology to their advantage. By exploring these facets, we aimed to shed light on the potential of digital tools in fostering positive change and amplifying artistic expression.
Shabu Mwangi (KEN), Joan Otieno (KEN), Mounir Ayoub (TUN, CH), Flurina Rothenberger (CH), Ngugi Waweru (KEN), Nabalayo (KEN), Wanjiru Ngure (KEN) and Ronald Pizzoferato (VEN) were the artists invited to participate in the workshop and bring their creative practices into our research.