Resilient Cities

Nairobi: Art Disrupting Corruption

Kenya is well known internationally for its sandy beaches and wide‐open savannahs that attract foreign tourists every year. But behind the picture perfect postcard hides a bleak reality.

In 2007 politically motivated ethnic violence spread across the country following a contested election, leaving over one thousand people dead. These ethnic tensions still persist today. The country’s current government, led by the son of Kenya’s first president, is said to be one of the most corrupt in its history, with the country reportedly losing a third of its state budget to corruption every year.

In Nairobi, a city characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty, some artists are fed up of the status quo and are using their art to break through the stagnation that characterizes a political class, which has hardly changed since 1963. This episode follows Anjali Nayar, a Canadian filmmaker who has made Kenya her home; Godfrey Mwampembwa, a political satirist whose caricatures, published in the daily newspaper, poke fun at the excesses of the government; Muthoni Ndonga, a musician whose recently released single is a sharp indictment of corruption in the country; and Sylvester Barasa, a contemporary dancer with polio, determined to carve out a place for himself despite the absence of infrastructure and social support.
 

 

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Jerusalem: Artists Fighting for Their Own Truth

As one of the oldest cities in the world and of significance to followers of all three major religions, Jerusalem is constantly on edge. It is segregated into two distinct parts, East and West. In the streets, 18-­year-­old soldiers patrol the city with guns. Artists in both parts of the city are using art to find and fight for their own truth and bring about peace amid the regular eruptions of violence.

Lagos: Artists Provoking Debate

Lagos, the largest city in Africa and an economic powerhouse, is characterized by extreme social inequalities, frequent power cuts and a rapidly increasing population. In the rest of Nigeria, political upheavals, including the militant insurgency of Boko Haram and a drop in oil production in the country’s oil sector, are among some of the challenges facing the government of Mohammadu Buhari, elected in 2015. Lagos, and its exploding art scene, is where these realities are brought to the fore of people’s consciousness.

Havana: Art from a Disconnected Island

Cuba is a multi-layered, complex, culturally-rich island, known primarily for the 1953 revolution of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The revolution, America’s subsequent trade embargo and the economic struggles that the island faced has had a notable impact on the kind of art that was created. Much of it was inspired by a sense of cohesion and unity, with Cuban artists promoting the belief that socialism would work. More recently, and in the context of renewed normalization of relations between the U.S.

Manila: Creating In Spite of Fear

Manila, a giant Asian metropolis with traffic-laden roads, towering skyscrapers and sprawling informal settlements, has become a dangerous place. Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in June 2016, vowing to crack down on the drug trade. Since then, extrajudicial killings have led to the deaths of over 3500 people by vigilantes; his approach is reminiscent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1965 to 1986.

Mexico City: Artists Breaking Apathy

Mexico City, a massive, sprawling metropolis and home to over 21 million inhabitants, is the capital of a country that has become notorious for drug-­‐related violence. The ‘drug war’ as it is widely known, officially launched in 2006, had initially the support of communities who were tired of gun battles, execution-­style murders and police corruption.