Karmali’s installation seeks to engage audience ideas on ‘value’, a concept more layered than first glance indicates. “VALUE” presents a series of provocative images evaluating ‘value’ from financial, utilitarian and moralistic vantages, forming a picture that is anything but tidy, yet more complete from the effort.

Nairobi Male Sex Workers have carved a place for themselves within Kenyan society, but their practice is far from taboo-free. The city’s Male Sex Workers (MSW) exist in the darkest corners of Nairobi’s imagination, contending daily with entrenched ideas on homosexuality and male role stereotypes. “VALUE” is not simply a cataloging of those in the sex industry, but an active force in articulating, shaping, and contesting their ‘value’ within the public sphere.

Each subject is photographed with their most treasured possession, leaving the viewer to perceive the object’s value through the subject. This confrontational approach to empathy forces the viewer to take stock of the MSW value system as well as their own. What makes worth, and who determines the consequences?

15 images and 15 Metal masks created with Meshak Oiro

The Perception of Value by Tahir Carl Karmali