ARTIST STATEMENT

My unique cultural background as a Kenyan-Indian-Canadian has confronted me with the hybrid and transitional nature of identity. This compels the aspects of my artistic practice, in which I question my own authenticity, all the while articulating issues that surround and debate a cultural and political agenda.  In sum, my work explores the thesis that identity is not static, but enacted, challenging accepted ways of thinking about what it is to have an “authentic” self.

Throughout my work I have used “African” objects to call authenticity into question through comparisons between the artifact and the souvenir. These comparisons bring the notion of provenance as a history of ownership into view. The ambiguousness of provenance raises questions about authenticity, and colonial authorship of histories. Where these objects are in flux and oscillate between being one thing and another, the complexities of their histories can be seen. Through these works, these objects continue to bring awareness to socio-political questions regarding neo-colonialism and identity today.

In my newest work, I am returning to my past life as a dancer. I aim to highlight the various meanings that the body can encapsulate: it is both a kind of object, endowed with cultural meaning, viewed by others and labored on by ourselves. It is also our expressive access-point to the world, constitutive of our subjectivity and selfhood. I investigate how movement techniques are recalled in the body via muscle memory and explore this phenomenon through cultural dance, ballet, and the languages that prescribe directions for dancers to move. Choreography, as I understand it, is a tool for coding and decoding the language of movement. I look at movement through queer and laboring bodies as they relate to the construction of gender roles and physicality.  In so, this work continues to engage with the transitional nature of identity, while now exploring how this is enacted and experienced on the level of embodiment.

 

Contact: brendan@brendanfernandes.ca