The Go Down
Our first stop was The Go Down, in the industrial area of the city. The site is a large complex of different studios, spaces and offices located around a central open space.
In these studios we saw artists at work, an annex of the conservatoire, a workspace where bags are designed and made, a music studio for recording, NairoBits new media training, the CCAEA run by Jimmy Ogonga and of course the main gallery space of The Go Down and its large theater space. The program of the main gallery space is to show exhibitions that are experimental and challenge conventions. Because this type of curated exhibition is hard to come by, the gallery space is sometimes (and to the organisers regret) empty.
One of the more recent shows that Judy Ogana from The Go Down is especially happy with and proud of is the Kenya Burning project that showed the shocking and brutal images of the riots that took place in Kenya a few years ago after the elections.
There were a lot of people working in the spaces. They told us that working close to one another was inspiring and the exchange valuable to their work and development. Most of these organisations have an outreach program and work with young people from disadvantaged areas to give them a chance to develop their creative talents. All the organisations within The Go Down serve, as Judy put it, the mandate of The Go Down to promote arts and culture.
Afterwards we drove to RaMoMa, a building set in a beautiful garden with sculptures. They show part of their permanent collection on the ground floor and have different exhibitions on the other floors. They also show work made by young artists and rent and sell art.
Finally we went to Kuona Trust. The building is also situated in a beautiful garden with a lot of sculptures and surrounded by artist studio’s. Inside the main building there is a library, computers with internet access for the artists to use and a small exhibition space.
The exhibition space is also used for artist talks and film screenings. It is curated by a diverse group of people who are invited to create an exhibition there. The focus is on conceptual art, installations and experimental shows. Outside some 27 artists work in the studio’s, either alone or in a shared studio. There is also a residency space for international artists. The artists are a mixed group of more established artists that give the place prestige and attract younger people and younger, emerging artists. Here as well, we saw a lot of people at work in their studio’s – painting, making sculptures or working with photography. A lot of these artists also give workshops to younger people or have students.
Michael Soi at work in his studio at Kuona Trust.
More images of the places we visited can be found here.