WANJA Kimani’s Butterfly, a new film inspired by the everyday pleasures of a daily family walk, will be released on June 2 as the latest digital commission in lockdown from Scarborough Art Gallery.
Butterfly is filmed from the perspective of two children adjusting to life during the Coronavirus lockdown and collects encounters from their walks, when they appreciate nature and music in particular.
Suitable for all ages, Kimani’s six-minute film can be seen on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel, https://bit.ly/SMTbutterfly, from next Tuesday morning.
One of Butterfly’s highlights will be a performance of Over The Rainbow, from The Wizard Of Oz, played on violin, piano and accordion by two music teachers from their doorstep.
Kimani, who lives in Cambridgeshire, says: “We heard beautiful music coming from the house one day and put a note on the door to ask if we could film the following day.
“It’s not something we would usually have heard: all of these things are coming together because we’re all forced to be at home.”
Kimani asks both herself and the viewer: “What can we learn from listening even closer to our natural world, which seems to be revelling in our absence? How can the small but magnified details of our journey change how we engage when all of this is over?
“In this digital commission, I am exploring objects from the natural world through the eyes of children, who instinctively collect and curate everyday objects simply by noticing them.
“The title, Butterfly, sums up spring for me: a sign of new life, light and a reminder that things are working even when we don’t see them. It’s something that my youngest has just learned how to draw and is so proud of it.”
Scarborough Museums Trust wants Butterfly to be accessible to everyone. Consequently, the film includes audio description and captioning, for those who might find this helpful. A transcript is available to download too.
Kimani says: “Thinking about how this work will be accessed has made me pause and reflect on how the tools I use can be used to enrich the experience of diverse viewers. It made me consider how my work may be viewed and what different audiences may need to engage with the work.
“By embedding access in the process, the work has allowed me to experiment with how different senses engage with work, with the second part of the work attempting to level out the point of entry.”
Through film, textiles and installation, Kimani’s repertoire of work “explores memory, trauma and the fluidity within social structures that are designed to care and protect but have the potential to mutate into coercive forces within society”.
She imposes elements of her own life into public spaces, creating a personal narrative where she is both author and character. In 2018, her performance piece Expectations was included in the Laboratoire Agit’Art presentation during the Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal.
In 2019, she presented her work at Art Dubai and as part of a group show, Yesterday Is Today’s Memory, at Espace Commines, in Paris, France.
The digital commission series forms part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Corona crisis, asking Kimani, Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for release online across assorted social-media platforms over the next few months.