Keyezua is an Angolan born digital artist based at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague. Her work investigates her curiosity towards topics on African culture, sex and religion. She experiments with a wide range of mediums and we discussed her latest project, Stone Orgasms addresses female genital mutilation and the female body.
“There was no voice of motivation but anger, I was angry with the fact that this is happening to women and from there I started to look for ways to express myself. In the beginning there was anger, revolt, darkness, melancholy but later in the process also pride and resistance.”
Can you tell us a little about yourself, Where you are from, your art background?
I am Keyezua an Angolan born artist graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague (Netherlands). Since I was a little girl I was the disobedient child in our house, changing things to show my feelings and recreating them to provoke a reaction. In the end it was something that didn’t go away with the years, it grew in me and I became someone that interacts with human issues and exhibits them to create a space for debate or demand a second opinion from my audience. My art could range between expressionism, surrealism and Pan-Africanism. I like to define myself as a storyteller.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of Female Genital Mutilation in your art work?
There was no voice of motivation but anger, I was angry with the fact that this is happening to women and from there I started to look for ways to express myself. In the beginning there was anger, revolt, darkness, melancholy but later in the process also pride and resistance. I was looking for different materials to express myself, I made illustrations, painted faces but they all failed to depict what I have learned about Female Genital Mutilation.
Why did you choose the medium of digital collage?
I never know anything about my next medium. I wake up, breath, listen to the world, try to take over peoples emotions and let the painful things around me inspire me. It is a digital collage because online I found all the materials that when composed together express my thoughts around this subject. I did not want to give the fictional women in Stone Orgasms a face, I wanted to depict their fate in collapsed rocks. Creating chaos around an untouched ancient beauty. The damage to both the body and the capability of sexual release, is represented by the collapsed rocks. Some portraits seem to question masturbation, sexuality and pain, others show survivors, telling their story to the world – not to be stigmatized but to become heroes.
What was your process in creating the work?
With more than 125 million girls and women worldwide damned to live with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives, I wanted to create a response through the eyes of an artist. I created different layers in Stone Orgasms, from ancient portraits of women to images of antique statues, photography of rocks and medical pictures of organs. The statues inside the body show elements of the classical Venus Pudica pose, a bashful Venus barely covering her exposed pudenda, referring to shame, indecency and disgrace. Body parts and organs are misplaced during the process of image manipulation to examine the extreme destruction of the body through genital mutilation. I combine contrasts and cut (digitally) through material to come to the point where different layers create a new personality. I am not a politician to give speeches about female genital mutilation but as an artist I identify myself as one of the voices these women have today to tell their story.
“African artists are creating beautiful art that shows the Africa I know and that is POWER. In each work of art, from ancient to contemporary art, I can find inspiration. I also feel inspired by pain. Think about racism, stigmatization, colonialism, heritage, identity, history.”
Who are some of your influences? What inspires your work and art?
African artists are creating beautiful art that shows the Africa I know and that is POWER. In each work of art, from ancient to contemporary art, I can find inspiration. I also feel inspired by pain. Think about racism, stigmatization, colonialism, heritage, identity, history. There are enough painful stories to find. I try to give it a face by going under the skin of those that tell me their stories, I try to feel what they feel. It penetrates my mind and takes over my body movement to tell stories in my own invented language in the way I cut, choose color and interact with the different materials.