Prison Sex II (2009)
Prison Sex II is a series of works that began with a community mural evolved in to a public performance and then became a video triptych. The mural was painted during Urban Wasanii 2008; a Triangle Arts Trust workshop in Mombasa, Kenya. The image was of a leso, a piece of cloth that came from the suture of handkerchiefs worn by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. The local women on the Kenyan coast traded with the merchants and sewed the handkerchiefs into cloths they could wrap around their bodies. These cloths evolved to become the lesos that we know today in East Africa. The mural’s message was to “know your history, but own your culture.” This made reference to the history of the textile that so many people believe is indigenous to East Africa when in fact it represents a history of hybridism.
The public performance of Prison Sex II was inside the Fort Jesus museum and devoted to the memory of a woman who was imprisoned there during colonial rule when the museum was a prison, as means to gain autonomy from her husband. The central video of the triptych talks about this woman as well as a female Kenyan freedom fighter named Me Kitilili. Me Kitilili was also imprisoned at the fort because she fought British colonists who wanted to cut down sacred forests on the Kenyan coastline.