Melissa Fund

KTOKO (2021) Multimedia installation (video, sound, photo books, clothing, postcards, posters, light box)

Image description: Installation – Traditional Congolese clothes hanging in front of a blue wall, a small TV with a video playing, a yellow plinth with bags, shoes and books displayed on it

Melissa Fund’s KTOKO (from kitoko, Lingala) is a multimedia installation exploring the themes of diasporic experience and archival practice through the lens of fashion communication. Influenced by the artists of Antwaun Sargent’s The New Black Vanguard, this work employs the lexicon of fashion as a means of reclaiming power over cultural narratives that have historically been misrepresented or overlooked by the dominant Eurocentric gaze.

KTOKO is a reconceptualisation of Congolese-ness as a contemporary fashion brand which celebrates the resilient richness and vibrance of the diasporic community. The showroom inspired installation utilises the structural framework of fashion, acknowledging the signifying power of the fashion image and its direct influence on mainstream consciousness, especially in relation to the construction of cultural ideals.

Comprised of photo-based works, video, sound and various clothing objects, KTOKO invokes a contemporary Afrocentric reimagining of the spaces we traditionally associate with cultural archiving. The installation appropriates the scenography of the museum with the intention to re-embody the practice of cultural archiving by personalising artefacts through the experiences of individual women. In this sense, KTOKO offers a counter-narrative to the historically westernised discourse on blackness and migration by using representational, culturally-specific experiences as a point of departure for creative play.

Instagram: @melifund