performance lab #7 projects

performance lab #7 projects

what flag would it be if your body was a country


opiyo okach

flag  8' 17"

Multi-Scheme Video Player

participants l Adam Chienjo, Sarah Kwala, Jared Onyango, Alice Kamene, Juliet Omollo, Jack Atulo, Rapassa Ulawi, Jack Bryton, Alacoque Ntome, Esther Wambui, Naomi Ciiru Wanjiru, Papa Omugataya, Jabu Siphika, Sifiso Khumalo

‘What flag would it be if your body was a country’ interogates ideas of body, identity & nation. Is there a nationality of the body, what are the connections of nation & identity. National interest is often evoked as raison d’être in politics, justice, security, sports, cultural and other contexts - the olympics, the arab spring, atrocities in Sudan, Syria, US drone strikes, the banning of the hijab by some countries…are all for the love & defence of national ideal against the adversary. But where is the real enemy. Are nations a danger to themselves & the people who live in & conceive of them. Is there substance of nation beyond copy-paste flags & anthems, institutions & systems. Are body, flag & country mere commodity in the marketplace of power and domination. What are the spaces between pride & demagogy, patriotism & xenophobia.


This decade mark 50 yrs of independence for many african countries. Kenya celebrates 50 yrs of independence in 2014. Independence from what, to build what?… This is just one of the contexts within which I’m playing with the symbols of nation & identity.


Spatial exploration on the project began with the idea of fashion show as dispositive - the ‘catwalk’ as a platform permitting different processes: celebration, showing off and self selling, of wheeling and dealing of power, a marketplace where countries and flags are auctioned, where second hand democracy is sold at half price…


The ‘characters’ of ‘What flag would it be if your body was a country’ include:

- a panoply of schizophrenic madman’s flags, designed by Nur Jeffa, that resemble all flags but don’t belong to any particular countries

- a megaphone that is utilised by different performers for encouraging each other, selling flags & other merchandise, running commentary on scenes on stage, addressing audiences and shouting political slogans

- a throne consisting of flags laid down in the form of square ring on stage - a zone of dreams and excesses where all is possible

- a blindfolded woman tossing cards about stage while a group of men repeatedly hurl and catch shoes

- infantile trio in flag nappies celebrating victory in parliament

- orchestrated mass sales where body, flag and country are auctioned

- discography of old hits (iconic international pop and kenyan ethnic pop & national song) from different era that at times evoke nostalgia but also function as soundscape of ‘transgressed geographies’


 The work is essentially parodic, taking on the the appearance of false celebration & carnival; halfway between advertising campaign, fan fair, fashion show or auction house in which imported second-hand democracy is peddled at half price the performers entertain and seduce the audience - investors - in a ritual of flags. Below this overbearing camouflage of ‘flag entertainment’ unfolds individual nightmares and tragedies.

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