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MOKORO

Exhibition / Installation

V&A Project

17   —    18, 20   —    25 Sep 2022

Fashion & Textiles, Materials

V&A

Cromwell Road

Fashion, Room 40

London

SW7 2RL

#LDF22

Hosted by

Meaning ‘Mother’ in Sheng, MOKORO is a multi-media exhibition celebrating the sanctuary of sisterhood. Our protagonists are the young women and girls from an art studio in Kenya, it is here that they push the limits of up-cycled fashion and design.

A collective of young women living in the informal settlement of Korogocho in Nairobi, Kenya, artfully challenge the limits of waste materials. Within the walls of the art studio Warembo Wasanii, young female artists craft pieces entirely from refuse sourced from the neighbouring Dandora and Kariobangi landfill, ingeniously repurposing these discarded resources. Mokoro is a collaborative project between Warembo Wasanii and photographer Kristin Lee-Moolman, stylist Louise Ford, Yann Turchi and curators Sophie Strobele and Emmanuelle Atlan. Consisting of photographs, video and sculptures, Mokoro highlights the transformative power of authentic artistry and the strength of collective empowerment. Single use items that are destined for slow degradation become thoughtful sculptural pieces expertly designed and infused with life-affirming whimsy. The transformation of waste into art is a logical step considering the materials are cheap and readily available, especially in Kenya, a country that is routinely treated as a dumping ground for imported waste. Bottle caps, yoghurt pots, Colgate wrappers and Pampers boxes are skilfully transformed into wearable sculptures. Joan Otieno, the founder of the studio, teaches and inspires resourcefulness, coaching the young women at the studio on sourcing trash and recycling. Warembo Wasanii - a space where the students work as well as a gallery that showcases and sells their art - is as much a space for women to express themselves creatively as it is a means for them to gain financial independence. The female only art studio Warembo Wasanii, provides a refuge, both creatively and emotionally, for the girls of Korogocho. The women residing in the slum lack a space to be women freely and safely. Yet within the walls of Warembo Wasanii, Otieno shares knowledge and expertise, encouraging the women to share their ideas and personal stories. The young women and girls at Warembo Wasanii are empowered to express their artistic creativity, extending the lifespan of discarded items in imaginative new ways.