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A Vibe Called Tech – Dear Maki


Artwork Title: Dear Maki, an entity of many, or one or none. Searching for the whole, 2021

Medium: photographic print on tea stained recycled paper, burnout used tights, cotton thread, metallic acrylic paint and metallic pen on tea stained used card


In Summer 2021, I was commissioned by A Vibe Called Tech in partnership with Faber publishing to create an artwork as part of a launch week event of Akwaeke Emezi’s novel Dear Senthuran. Using sustainable materials and textiles, I explored notions of identity and family in response to ‘Masks’. Taking inspiration from African embroidery traditions, Enam interprets the cultural artistry through a contemporary lens.

“To receive ‘Masks|Dear Maki’ as the letter I was to respond to was divine serendipity. I immediately connected to Akwaeke’s words in how they spoke to the many thoughts and feelings I have been exploring in my personal journey as well as some of the themes underscoring my practice. My response became a manifestation of all these elements. I began with collage of an African mask and Akwaeke’s photo the images spliced and intermingled so they are just determinable but not quite. Some of the masks features are enhanced with embroidery, but then the image is masked further with burnt out and laddered tights, embroidery and loose threads. The overall effect a cracked, torn, broken assemblage of a face stitched and glued back together, the many making an imperfect whole. Some of the text from the letter also adorns the front and the back of the work as though a prayer. Inspired by the book title, Senthuran, which means warrior the African mask was the perfect symbol. More so because the mask acts as portal to spiritual and ancestral realms. It is also racially charged as it underpins the commodification and vilification of African features that birthed black face caricatures and the many stereotypes of blackness. Stereotypes, which have led to the cloaking of our true selves with a supposedly more ‘palatable’, ‘passive’ version. The compulsory performance act to fit into the patriarchy. Yet more problematic are the masks we all wear to make invisible our true self from ourselves, scared of who that self might be. My artwork, ‘Dear Maki, an entity of many, masked by one or none. Searching for the whole’, is a cracking of those many faces a breaking apart in attempt to reach the true essence, BEING.”

Graphic design by David Marques