Is Free Dumb (2010)
Is Free Dumb was conceived as a very simple performance. Essentially, all Lakareber Abe wanted to do was read in the streets of Nairobi! Of course Abe set a context for this reading/reading. She placed herself in a cage, baring her shoulders with her body wrapped in an East African leso. This is not uncommon attire for East African women in their homes. Abe wanted to highlight the quotidian and bring the private into the public. In the morning that the performance began, she set out in this attire, reading popular contemporary magazines at a table within the black wooden cage. Lakareber Abe wanted to understand the reading of traditional and contemporary as a Kenyan woman, and discover why indeed she felt caged. However, the Nairobi police force did not take kindly to this experiment and she was imprisoned for eight hours in downtown Nairobi with James Muriuki, the Is Free Dumb's photographer. This sequence of events harkens toward the climate in which she was operating and indeed answers the question as to why she was feeling like a caged woman. Since this performance, the city council of Nairobi (and the police) have gotten more lenient.