DAK’ART 2014

11ème Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain 09/05>08/06

Sam Hopkins


Logos of Non Profit Organisations working in Kenya (some of which are imaginary) : installation, silk screen, 80 x 230 x 5 cm each, 2010, on going, © Sam Hopkins.

That the NGO sector is very prominent in Kenya is without doubt. However, what is not clear is what qualifies as charity, development, or aid. Sam Hopkins addresses this wide assortment of NGOs and their diverging missions focusing on the aesthetics of their logo designs. His installation is an assemblage of several of these logos as well as imaginary ones. All of the logos are displayed in the same format printed on plain white squares and mounted with a minimalist wooden frame. It is not apparent which logos are real and which are created by the artist. With the installation, Hopkins raises legitimate questions about the role of NGOs and the works they purportedly claim to do in Kenya. He scrutinizes the motivations behind so-called charity organizations and the unspoken power dynamics that characterize their work.

Sam Hopkins is a site-specific artist whose work responds to the social and political context within which he lives. His practice is similar to documentary; probing and reimagining stories, characters and elements of daily life. Although wary of grand
narratives, he seems to orbit around issues of public space and the negotiation of
participatory practice. As his practice is triggered by a context, the work can take various forms. This can be project-based; Slum TV, a grassroots media group and Urban Mirror, a collective of public space activists, develop over many years. They can also take a more lyrical form, such as the body of interventions and installations which have grown from his both his solo practice, as part of Usually4 and in collaboration Maasai Mbili. Recently his work has begun to focus on the peculiarities and aesthetics of the ’Development’ sector. Born in 1979 in Rome, he was raised in Kenya and England before studying History and Spanish in Edinburgh and Cuba. He then proceeded to postgraduate studies in Contemporary Art in Oxford and Weimar, returning to Nairobi on a permanent basis in 2006.

View online : www.samhopkins.org