“Being a white lesbian Namibian comes with a multitude of privileges, but also identity conflicts and challenges. Born and raised in a country with colonial history, I benefitted from access to education, property, and other “invisible packages of unearned assets”, as per Peggy McIntosh. But as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in a country that still holds strong conservative Christian values as a result of colonialism – which haven’t progressed and adjusted to global contemporary views – I questioned my place in this society.”
Raised on a farm near the town of Otjiwarongo, Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn connects much of her creative influence to an inert love for what she calls, “the country and its wilderness”. Paired with a sensitive awareness towards the conservative elements of this sheltered environment, the artist presents personal tensions by incorporating video, photography, installation and sculpture into a multidisciplinary art practice.
The artist’s latest creative narrative explores themes of memory, sexuality and identity, highlighted through aspects of “appropriation, remixing, recycling and sampling”. Under the banner, ‘Re-queering a Nation’, Lacheiner-Kuhn investigates not only a personal grapple with “outsider as well as intruder syndrome”, but also aims to visualise the connection to a collective colonial memory and its impacts on minorities. She explains, “In addition to institutional racism, homophobia can also be attributed to colonialism. Acknowledging this is relevant not only to this exhibition, but also to Namibia’s progression towards equal rights for everyone.”
Known to incorporate a good dose of humour to address contentious subjects through her artworks, for this exhibition, the artist used social media to reach out to the wider Namibian LGBTQIA+ community, calling for collaboration “towards a common cause for equality”. The result is a collection of collages that present glimpses into memories and moments of a community that often identify as outsiders. Lacheiner-Kuhn explains that 98% of the works include imagery of people she’s met and connected with through social platforms. “The beauty of this community is that it unifies people from all walks of life, colour, economic and educational background. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with such a wide scope of people… and I think the collages created are almost secondary to the experience of connecting with ‘my people’, from my home country. It’s a celebration of the beautifully diverse LGBTQIA+ community!”
Paired by the “whimsical security and beauty” of colourful objects like flowers, birds and bananas, these celebrations are presented on a backdrop of historical black and white imagery, sourced from postcards, family albums and Frankfurt University’s Colonial Picture Archive. Introduced through tongue-in-the-cheek titles, like,Beaming to the Light, He’s a Tall Glass of Milk, and To the Depths of our Psyche, the collaboration presents a vibrant modern-day reality of freedom of expression, in playful contrast to a more conservative era however long gone, but perpetually lingering.
Lacheiner-Kuhn has exhibited widely, including in the USA, UK, Spain, Italy, South Africa and Namibia, and her work forms part of private and public collections in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Having formerly taught digital media and 3D-sculpture at University of the Arts London (2011-2016), she now predominantly works as a special effects snow technician for film and television, while continuing with personal art projects. The artist lives and works between Hamburg, London and Swakopmund.
‘Re-queering a Nation’ is on view at The Project Room from 8 to 23 April 2022.
Below the digital catalogue.