Ato Malinda performs “Untitled derivative of Mshoga Mpya, or the New Homosexual” (2014) as part of the exhibition African Odysseys held at BRASS.
It is a one-on-one performance set to auto-ethnographic songs sung by Malinda. Ato Malinda sings to melodies written by pop musicians, Cher, Emeli Sande and Tracy Chapman, with her own lyrics. Each audience member listens to songs on headphones, one at a time, as Malinda performs on a plastic map. The map Malinda sits on is the textual representation of queer spaces in Nairobi, Kenya. Malinda paints her face repeatedly with the now universal symbol for the LGBTIQ movement; the rainbow flag. This repetition upon the representation of Nairobi’s queer space begs the questions, is an African woman who has same-sex desires in Kenya automatically identifiable with the word “lesbian” or with the international LGBTIQ community? What is it to be queer and/or LGBT or I in Kenya? Identification remains a central issue. After some time the performance expands to a group performance involving all the audience members present and becomes a performance of reading, writing and sharing stories.