Research within TPAAE explores the fusion of Traditional and Contemporary Art in Kenya. Drawing on the experiences of partners from Kenyatta University and Pwani University, the project’s multidisciplinary approach finds its footing in the so-called performative turn in fields such as linguistics, anthropology, ethnography, sociology, art, and architecture that is a pillar of research in the humanities and social sciences. Experienced art historians, educators and curators from the National Museum in Szczecin and the University of Macerata are focusing on grounded, intimate, and embodied practices as keys for understanding the art made in the region.
Stemming principally from every day, first-person interactions, observations, and analyses, their field studies include interviews with artists, artisans, actors and residents. As well as observation of performances, meetings with representatives of cultural institutions, non-governmental organizations, artistic groups, art curators, and cultural activists. Taking place on two continents, their work embraces artistic and educational practices, as well as workshops, festivals and exhibitions. While aimed at meeting goals and completing deliverables for TPAAE, their findings are providing a platform for future examinations and cultural exchanges.
Their selected lines if inquiry include:
- Assessing the degree to which East African artistic production developed according to the diktats of European culture and vision during the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Analyzing the “academic art” produced in East Africa since the foundation of art education based on European models and its effects on the so-called “tourist art” produced for Westerners.
- Defining the specifics of traditional Kenyan theater.
- Determining whether puppet performances can play a role in new forms of education and socialization.
- Understanding the notion of performance and performativity in Contemporary Art practices in Kenya and East Africa.
- Exploring the drivers of the increasing female involvement in traditional performances in Kenya.
- Interpreting changes in tangible and intangible cultural heritage on the coast of Kenya.
- Identifying the characteristics of Contemporary Art made in Kenya.
- Developing models for transcultural art education in the Kenyan context.