Healing the Museum
"I see healing as a form of institutional critique."
Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist whose work encompasses performance, film, social activism, shamanism, and textile art. Read more …
In her practice, Grace Ndiritu delves into pressing themes such as community, ecology, black identity, feminism, and indigenous struggles. Raised in feminist, activist communities in rural Kenya and working-class England, Ndiritu developed a strong spiritual practice from an early age that permeates her oeuvre.
At the heart of Ndiritu’s work lies a profound aspiration to transform our contemporary world and reinvigorate the museum as a moral compass for society. Thus, in 2012, she began a new body of work under the title “Healing The Museum.” This need to heal the museum stemmed from a diagnosis that museums were dying due to a lack of relevance and spirituality:
“I really felt like museums had forgotten about the general public. And so for me, the only way to deal with it was by bringing non-rational methodologies into the museum. Bringing new energies through things like shamanism, yoga, meditation, but also different ways of working with collections and thinking about how we work with objects and cultures within a museum.”
Central to Ndiritu’s work are non-rational methodologies such as shamanic performances and group meditations, as well as tools to investigate and develop the museum from within. Therefore, between 2022 and 2023, Ndiritu embarked on an artist residency at S.M.A.K. in Gent, Belgium, titled “A Spiritual Inventory of a 21st Century Museum.” This year-long collaboration with museum staff aimed to reimagine the museum of the future. The culmination of this residency is the exhibition “Healing The Museum.” Concurrently, Grace Ndiritu reinterpreted the collection at the Photography Museum in Antwerpen, FOMU, taking a radical approach to the collection and exhibition design, creating a space for contemplation and reflection.
In this interview, Ndiritu reflects on her work as an artist and the process behind creating her mid-career survey at S.M.A.K. and her re-interpretation of the collection at FOMU. The interview includes documentation of her shamanic performance, “Birth of a New Museum,” performed at S.M.A.K. in May 2023.
Grace Ndiritu (b. 1976 in Nairobi, Kenya) studied fine art at De Ateliers, Amsterdam, where she was tutored by artists such as Marlene Dumas, McQueen, Tacita Dean, and Stan Douglas. In 2019, she won the Jarman Award for her short film “Black Beauty.” Ndiritu’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Bozar, Brussels, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, France Museum Modern of Art, Warsaw, and ICA London, to mention a few. Her work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Foto Museum (FOMU) in Antwerp, The British Council, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, MuZee in Oostende, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland, and Ulrich Museum, Kansas.
Grace Ndiritu was interviewed by Nanna Rebekka at S.M.A.K. in Gent, Belgium, during her residency at the museum.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced and edited by: Nanna Rebekka
Additional photography: Leitmotiv.
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023 Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling.
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