KAYO MPOYI is a writer. Her debut, the fictional novel Mai Betyder Vatten (Mai Means Water) was released in 2019. As in much of her recent work, this book focuses on women, sexuality, and trauma. The story itself is a study in what makes a family with a history of colonialism, violence, and displacement, become what it is. The book has been awarded Best Debut of 2019 by the Swedish Writers Union. It has been translated into Finnish and is now being translated into German and French.
In January 2021, she started to write for Sweden’s largest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, and is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. The central themes of practically everything she works with are water, women, and sexuality. Currently, she is collaborating with the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm for an art project “Memory Work”: She chose various objects from the museum’s archives and proceeded to “ask them questions” and search for the answers in various interpretive exercises she puts herself through.
This is made with the awareness that she comes predisposed and ready to understand things on unconscious levels because the past has left its traces in her – and when she subjects herself to the object and the questions, the answers will appear. This way, she could imbue the objects with living stories. The second part of this project is to invite other artists to collaborate in this same method. The stories created can be in any expressive format such as film, dance, and written words. The aim of this project is to create a new living archive that can heal, teach and fill the void that history has left us.
She wrote a text for National Black Theatre of Sweden’s Black Ocean which was quite simply a breathing ritual. The aim was for the people who saw the performance, to experience something tangible. Artists can speak about trauma in unique ways. They have the ability to fill in the spaces, to embody the silence, and stage retribution and hope. They can go five, six, or a thousand steps into the future.” This is also the approach Kayo took in the MAREBOX residency. She wanted to share her process of working with objects and would love to find new ways to use stories for healing.