As Brendan Fernandes prepared for the finale performance of his “72 Seasons” within Lurie Garden in Millennium Park on October 23, we asked the artist, dancer, choreographer, and Northwestern University professor of art theory and practice to tell us a little more about himself. We loved his answer!
“I am an artist, a Kenyan, an American, an Indian, a Canadian, and a punk rocker. I am complex and challenging and can’t be defined. I am all about giving and creating space for inclusion.” an artist, a Kenyan, an American, an Indian, a Canadian, and a punk rocker. He explains his artistic efforts in broad terms as well.
“My past life as a dancer and my experience leaving dance due to injury informs my current performance practice. Working at the intersection of dance and visual art, my pieces open up questions about the hybridity of media and seek to problematize the notion of a fixed, essential, or authentic identity. Over the course of the past 20 years, I have researched and staged performance interventions in national and international museums, galleries, and cultural institutions; facilitated public dialogues on contemporary, everyday socio-political concerns for marginalized communities; and created multimedia projects that rigorously engage with postcolonial and critical theory discourses.
“Due to political unrest, my family, who lived in Africa for five generations, immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1989. My immigration and childhood in Kenya is central to my artistic practice. Interrogating the fantasy of eroticized spaces, cultural tourism, and questions of authenticity with regards to the “African” artifact and souvenirs, brought the notions of ambiguous provenance, hegemony and identity to the fore and set the stage for my current artistic practice.”
Fernandes, who has lived in Chicago since 2016, told us: “I am in Chicago about a third of my time, in New York a lot and anticipate returning to Canada more frequently now that borders have opened.” His art is currently represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.