Hi, my name is Ivy Brandi Chemu Ng’ok and my artist name is Chemu Ng’ok and I’m based in South Africa but I’m originally from Kenya so I move between the two spaces Nairobi and Johannesburg though I lived in Gramstone for 7 years, which is based in South Africa.
And I do a bit of drawing but oil paint is my main medium. I did two bodies of work, Psychological Riot for my masters exhibition which ended last year and I did Self-esteem for Girls for Johannesburg art fair in September. And these five paintings come from both bodies of work and they have similarities such as they are both intimate and public at the same time, they play in different ways. In terms of private meaning or psychological riot that can happen within your mind as you try to overcome a system of thinking, whether it’s thinking within a patriarchal system or trying to decolonize the ideas you have within your mind. And public in terms of protesting for instance the fees must fall and the Rhodes must fall that happened in South Africa in 2015 and 2016 in the universities. I was currently at Rhodes University doing a masters and these protests were happening. So Psychological Riot also plays within the idea of protesting publically and trying to decolonize the institution.
Self-esteem for girls speaks more on agency, agency in terms of being able to create work that does not necessarily play to any forces but is just young women existing as they are. So for instance that painting Befriend is two friends whether it’s one person who they are their own friend or they exists within themselves, it’s like a mirror image of the friend or the idea of just friendship as a painting. Rather than an intense rioting against or pushing against, I think Self-esteem for Girls is more to deal with agency and Riot is more to deal with pushing against a system. I think what both bodies of works work really well together because they are also psychological and physical at the same time.
Audio guide recorded on the occasion of “2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.”