Invitation, 2012   Nalovi-Willert
A Nalovi-Willert exhibition is never just a hanging of work on blank white walls. The two are known for radically altering spaces using a bold and vibrant aesthetic inspired by their travels. Soon after arriving in Lamu as Artists in Residence, Lili and Jesko began collecting materials for use in a show that would happen towards the end of their three-month stay. They gathered everything from driftwood, to rope, to bits of straw matting. Four days before the opening, Lili and Jesko began their transformation of Baitil Aman. Many of their smaller paintings were fixed to hunks of old dhow wood whose weathered patina echoed the tones of the works themselves. The wood was then suspended from the ceiling with lengths of worn rope that still smelled of the ocean. Jesko’s large canvases were draped above the courtyard in an echo of the clothes hanging on washing lines around the village. Sculptural arrangements of old fish bones were added to the display. The artists wanted the exhibition to be a dialogue with the building, but also with what was outside, and with Lamu’s rich history. “It was important for us to have echoes of daily life. Lamu was built up by the dhows and by the donkeys.” Jesko explains. ‘We wanted at least three donkeys in there,’ Lili says. Through their efforts Baitil Aman was transfigured from a mere setting into an enchanting world, an art-scape in itself. (Priya Basil)
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