PAPER:work

This project uses paperwork that deals with asking for permission to cross borders and reconfiguring them into formal objects that emulate abstractions of landscape, the body, organic forms, and fencing.

Papermaking involves filtration of pulp, in this case, recycled documents, from water, mirroring how documents are used in border separation. A metaphor used to trigger questioning around the notions of authenticity, nationality, borders, colonialism, and history. I pull from my own application documents for the visas I need to travel the globe as a Kenyan citizen, copies of my family’s documents, and blank asylum application documents.

I started this project as a way to make sense of what nationality meant to me and how my life was contingent on the borders I was born between. Initially, I began by looking at ID documents from my father’s family that migrated to Kenya from North India in the 1890s. I became interested in the paperwork and how these documents changed after Kenyan independence in 1963.

While I was doing this research, I began my artist visa application for the US. While sifting through these old documents of my family and my own visa application documents, I realized how much paperwork had authority on how my family and myself and how this practice of applying national immobility had colonial roots.

I have created nearly 700 sheets of 23″x 13″ handmade paper and still working on more. As long as I feel anxious about my paperwork I will continue making them.