DAK’ART 2014

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

Arlene Wandera


I’ve Always Wanted a [Dolls] House : sculpture, modeling, woodwork, 70 x 114 x 49 cm, 2013, Courtesy of the Artist.

A dollhouse is a site of innocence, a child’s toy that envisions an idealistic future. With a dollhouse, a child plans out the perfect home, perfect family, perfect future, and perfect quotidian lifestyle. Arlene Wandera disrupts this childhood fantasy with I’ve Always Wanted A [Dolls] House. Instead of a pristine home and yard, Wandera’s dollhouse drips with white paint. The paint drips over the figures, down the side of the house and onto the exhibition floor to meld the stories of the house and its occupants together with the real world. The ten occupants of the house are anonymous with no facial features or gender identifiers. This speaks to the general struggle that all people endure. The figures are placed in dangerous and obscure positions to reinforce the theme of struggle and instincts of survival. The setting of the the less-than-perfect dollhouse has multiple implications. It seeks to open up debate on housing and the global status quo. It also questions the nostalgia of childhood and previous expectations of adulthood. Finally, it brings together the world of the child with the world of the adult. What was once a child’s plaything becomes a valued memorabilia. In English, the word “memorabilia” carries the word “memory” within it, and the French “souvenirs” is related to the verb “souvenir” (to remember). Memory implies something of the past that is no longer there. The bleak but realist message of I’ve Always Wanted A [Dolls] House thus functions as memorabilia of an optimistic childhood.

Arlene Wandera was born in 1981 in Kenya and is based in London. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art and her work is motivated by sociopolitical themes, encompassing various media namely sculpture, performance, installation and print. Arlene recently completed Artist residencies at Can Xalant (Spain), Gangneung Media Centre (South Korea) and has exhibited in group shows both nationally and internationally namely BonBon gallery (South Korea) 2012, Kunst im Hafen (Düsseldorf) 2011, Africa Museum (Johannesburg) 2010, Et Cetera Gallery (London) 2011. Previous performance/ live-art projects also include Dirty Paradise, Tron theatre (Glasgow) 2010,The 7000 Year Old Woman, Tate Modern (London) 2009 and Kukhu: Touring Performance, (Plymouth, Brighton, Hastings, Essex) 2008. Arlene was also the recipient of the Slade Duveen travel Scholarship (2002) and has since been involved in projects and workshops in schools and galleries across the continents.

View online : www.arlenewandera.com