As one of Africa’s leading names associated with Afrofuturism, Cyrus Kabiru has actively been pushing the boundaries of conventional craftsmanship, sculpture, fashion, design, art and photography since his ‘C-Stunner’ series of eyewear attracted wide-spread attention from various creative industries in 2011.
Kabiru creates intricate sculptural works from recycled materials that he finds within his hometown of Nairobi. His practice has rapidly evolved in recent years to also include larger sculptural works and installations like his bicycle series, ‘Black Mamba’, which forms the basis of his presentation at the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair.
Black Mamba is the colloquial term for the fixed-gear bicycles that have achieved iconic status in Kenya as the most affordable and popular method of transport. Yet as modernisation spreads through the African continent the Black Mamba is being replaced by increasingly affordable scooters and motor cycles. In memory of these bicycles, Kabiru recycles discarded and outdated bicycles, transforming them into unique sculptural assemblages to celebrate the bicycle's form and (non)function, whilst continuing the Kenyan cultural narrative of the Black Mamba.
Cyrus Kabiru was born in 1984 in Nairobi, where he still lives and works. His first solo exhibition was at the Wasanii Workshop in Kenya in 2008 and he has subsequently exhibited in England, the USA, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Turkey and South Africa. Kabiru was awarded the Best Artist Innovation award at the Maker Fair and in 2013 was a fellow at TED's ‘The Young, The Gifted, The Undiscovered’ in the USA. That same year, Kabiru also exhibited at the Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria and his work formed part of ‘Afrofuture: Adventure with Makers, Thinkers and Dreamers’ at Milan Design Week in Italy. Kabiru’s work is currently included in ‘Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design’ at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany; ‘Concealed: Selections from the Permanent Collection’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; ‘Towards Intersections: Negotiating Subjects, Objects and Contexts’ at the University of South Africa Art Gallery in Pretoria and ‘Architecture & Identity’ at the Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk, Denmark. Later this year, Kabiru will form part of ‘Unorthodox’, an exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York, USA. Upcoming exhibitions include ‘Lumières d’Afriques’ for the COP21 International Conference, Paris and a residency at the Han Nefkens Foundation, Barcelona in 2016.