Is Dumb Free

Is Free Dumb (2010)

Is Free Dumb was conceived as a very simple performance. Essentially, all I wanted to do was read in the streets of Nairobi! Of course I set a context for this reading/reading. I placed myself in a cage, baring my shoulders with my body wrapped in an East African leso. This is not uncommon attire for East African women in their homes. I wanted to highlight the quotidian and bring the private into the public. In the morning that the performance began, I set out in this attire, reading popular contemporary magazines at a table within the black wooden cage. I wanted to understand the reading of traditional and contemporary as a Kenyan woman, and discover why indeed I felt caged. However, the Nairobi police force did not take kindly to this experiment and I was imprisoned for eight hours in downtown Nairobi with James Muriuki, the project’s photographer. This result says a lot about the climate in which I was operating and indeed answers the question as to why I was feeling like a caged woman. Since this performance, the city council of Nairobi (and the police) have gotten more lenient.