June 2013 – Neo Musangi, a Kenyan non-binary artist and activist, performed publicly in front of the building of the Kenia National Archives. The aim of the performance was intended to dismantle the gender binary and create awareness about non-binary identities.
In a street performance, as citizens looked on, Neo Musangi took the audience through a range of what seemed to be confusing emotions. In ‘Time and Space I‘, they performed a one-person act without dialogue. The piece addressed sentiments that can be interpreted as inner conflict, turmoil, displacement or even mental health issues. As with creative works, including performance art, the meaning of the performance is open for interpretation.
The performance builds up and is followed by a performance called ‘In Time and Space II‘, where they dress in female clothing, taking on a feminine appearance until the scene rolls over into getting dressed in denim and a shirt, in a very masculine presentation and from there redressing in a different female outfit. The performance of getting dressed into male and female clothing became a continuous loop, until Neo walks away, disappearing into the audience, dressed as a dapper young guy.
In the final part of the series, ‘In Time and Space III‘, audience members were asked to unpack, analyse, and give comments on how they felt about the performance. Only men spoke to the interviewer and confusion was clear, questions such as “What genitals” the person has, and are they “active on men, or active on women, they should decide”, addresses issues faced by non-binary individuals.