Peterson Kamwathi (Kenyan, born 1980)
Monument II, circa 2012
Signed ‘signature’ (lower right)
Graphite and charcoal on paper
111.5 x 109.5 cm
Ksh 680,000 – 1,000,000 ARR
(US$) 6,000 – 9,000
Provenance: private collection

Monument II is one of a body of four drawings by Peterson Kamwathi that explore the way that certain buildings, which can be singular and highly visible images but remain also objects, can be turned into symbols and monuments. The drawings were made around 2012, when the proceedings of the International Criminal Court investigation into responsibility for the 2007–2008 post-election violence in Kenya was very prominent in the news cycle. Introducing most televised reports was the image of the then ICC building in the Hague. Kamwathi reflected on how, through repeated exposure, this building took on another form, how it became a powerful image impacting people’s existences and realities, and also became a trigger for memories of the crisis. The drawings are of four buildings and have a chronology. The first depicts the KICC building in Nairobi, used as the national tallying centre for counting the votes for the 2007 election. The second, this piece, is a rendering of State House, where the incumbent president would reside, patched together from images in the media and the artist’s own imagination as, for security, images of the entirety of the building are not accessible. The third drawing is of tents, the temporary structures provided to shelter the numerous displaced people, and finally, in the fourth drawing, is the then ICC building in Holland. Rendered in dense charcoal, there is an extreme heaviness to the drawings – each has an optic of separation, but they are not singular or sovereign. These four buildings, at once so interconnected yet so far removed from each other, together form a part of Kenyan history.