essays by Jonathan Watkins, Vittorio Urbani, Camilla Seibezzi
Published alongside three of Ndiritu’s video works exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Projected onto the altar, The Nightingale becomes a powerful installation, in this context, alluding to images of the Madonna that occur in Renaissance paintings. The video explores issues of cultural stereotyping and the disconnection between East and West. The beginning of The Nightingale is peaceful and serene, showing Ndiritu slowly moving a cloth over her head and shoulders, to reveal her face, her eyes closed. A soundtrack of quiet African music suddenly changes and the artist becomes animated, her eyes wide open, focused on the viewer, twisting, wrapping and folding the fabric with simple movements to transform her appearance. Each action reveals another identity in a sequence of references to an assortment of cultures, the fabric playing the role of blindfold, hajib, headscarf, burka, veil, bandanna, purdah, gag and turban.