Absolut Art Transformation Event: Nairobi Black Box #AbsolutArt

I think I took the challenge up because of the amount of pressure we would work under.

First of all no collaborations. I have wanted to collaborate with Tonnee Mugo or Kevin Odour on something for a while. I thought this would be it. It wasn’t. But…

  • It need to be mobile/ transportable.
  • It needed to be less than 1.5m x 1.5m.
  • It needed to talk about the transformation of Nairobi.
  • It needed to include Absolut somewhere.
  • It needed to be completed within a week with the final touches being added on the day itself – the project needed to be complete by 7:30pm.

Me I wanted to win. Just because.

I came second.

Day 1 and 2:

My idea:

 The “thing”  needed to be a representation of my evolving ideas of Nairobi. What it means to me now and how it is changing.

Day 3: After 2 days of envisioning this “thing” and what it would look like and going around to collect the materials, I suddenly had a breakthrough. A simple circuit in a box that light up 5 bottles. Also I have been dreaming about a simple cicruit for a while – I made one in Standard 6 and I have always wanted to make one again. I don’t know why.

Prepping for the Box
Prepping for the Box

Day 4:

Procrastination hit hard. This is my earthly struggle. And part of the reason I took up the challenge is because I know this. I worked instead on building the box to the specifications I needed. I wanted a box that could carry the battery on the underside and that had a lockable lid on the top. One that was flush against the bottles so that they would not move. I wanted both the bulbs and batteries to be accessible so that they could be changed if they burned out. I needed none of the items to jiggle inside the box. And finally I wanted a switch on the outside of the box.

Day 5:

D-Day. This day was finally here.

Twice the soldered wire came apart and then a bulb in the circuit broke. Off to Yaya to get a new bulb as the clock continued to tick. 2pm. 5hrs to when the “thing” needed to be done.

Nairobi skyline
Nairobi skyline

Back Panel:

The Nairobi skyline is on the back of the box and it rises from words taken from Up Magazine which offers insight on the Nairobi that I am part of, a growing vibrant arts world. The skyline rises above all descriptions and no matter what angle we come at it from, metaphorically and physically, we recognise Nairobi when we see it.

Side Panels:

The side panels represent:

1. the complex identities that we possess (What does it mean to be Kenyan? – a hangover from my current project: Who I Am, Who We Are )

2. the changing environment: Westgate (security/ freedom of movement), the removal of F2 (loss of icons due to modernization at all costs)

Front Panel:

So Absolut is called that because it is pure. The little slither of light that shines behind the word Absolut represents our character. I believe that Nairobians are genuine and pure. Genuinely and purely that thing that they are, good or bad.

BONUS: Plus the cool thing is in a dark room, the words Absolute are projected on a wall.

Underneath Nairobian purity are the documents that one needs to get around (atleast the ones that entitle me to certain things) my ID, DL and the Kuona Artist ID (no, really I get freebies with this one).

I finished the project at 7:17pm.

I had fun. And for a whole week, I dreamed about this “thing.”

Nairobi Black Box on D-day
Nairobi Black Box on D-day
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