Inspired by the writing and poetry of Maya Angelou (1928-2014), a leading American civil rights activist, Still We Rise was an uncompromising set of installations and live performances by international femme and non-binary media artists.
Supported by the British Council and UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts, the artists selected were Ulungile Magubane (South Africa), Neo Musangi (Kenya) and Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana (USA).
Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem “Still I Rise” spoke of her experiences as a black woman in America, highlighting the importance of reigniting one’s self-worth and power in order to combat oppression.
Today inequalities remain rife and even permeate the technologies that pervade our lives – from a holocaust denying twitter bot, to the gendered labour of artificial intelligence.
In this context, Still We Rise examined the systems which perpetuate inequalities from the perspective and locale of an international group of women, non-binary, femme-identifying people.
“Lightning tour of the awesome York Mediale – highlights included Neo Musangi’s The Way of the Cross and Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana’s Life is… Grand at the Stained Glass Centre. It’s been really inspiring to see such a familiar city in an entirely new light, and the opportunity to experience such a breadth of work against usually unseen spaces is a real privilege.”
“The Way of the Cross is a very Catholic thing in Kenya, where it’s done every Easter, re-enacting Christ’s journey. I’m still a good Christian, but I’m also non-binary, which is illegal in Kenya, as is homosexuality: you can be sent to prison for 14 years for being homosexual. So when I found out my installation was going to be in an old church, I became very excited. It’s the perfect way to frame my work”
Neo Sinoxolo Musangi
Still We Rise Artist