Christian Nyampeta

Christian Nyampeta / b. 1981, Rwanda / lives and works in New York


The 5th Ural Biennial Main Project features the work:
“Comprendre et s’exprimer” (Digital prints on machine-cut MDF, 2019)
Courtesy of the artist


Comprendre et s’exprimer (2019) is a modular work, that simulates a model of how to unearth or de-sediment the grip of one’s own intellectual foundations. The work draws from Nyampeta’s short piece of fiction about a writer attempting to draft a novella at a time when the use of existing words is restricted by copyright. As a result, the writer turns to the late philosopher Rwandan Abbé Alexis Kagame, whose writings are some of the earliest to emerge from south of the Sahara. In a dialogue between these two characters, the writer translates Kagame’s work and in doing so, forges new words that fall outside of the copyright restrictions. The work also draws from obsolete French school textbooks formerly used in Rwanda, mostly between 1986 and 1994. The books were composed as syllabi published in six volumes corresponding to each ascending level of the public secondary school system.

The extensive range of the source materials includes socially and culturally divisive content, alongside poems, songs and stories
by Panafrican figures such as Negritude poet Birago Diop. Allegorical and poetic, Comprendre et s’exprimer highlights the subjective nature of information and how easily it can be controlled and manipulated by the dominant power at a given time. The discussion here is about seeking alternative means, such as writing and art-making in order to multiply the means of survival and continuation of knowledge and civilization.

Also presented work:
“The Interior of History is Red” (Chairs of assembled origins and machine-cut mdf, 2019)
Courtesy of the artist