“Have I lost some of my Canadian identity and am further away from my Kenyan heritage now that I live in America? This must be true if you, like myself, believe that identity is in a constant state of flux.” 2011
Brendan Fernandes is a prominent Kenyan-born Canadian artist of Indian (Goan) heritage who lives and works in New York. Fernandes’s work focuses on identity constructs.
Fernandes was born in Nairobi. His parents are of Indian descent. “When people see me, they say ‘well, you’re Indian.” But I don’t have a close connection with that at all. What’s more we’re Goan Indians, so we’re Portuguese heritage too. But I have no connection to that at all. I’m Kenyan, but also Canadian – I’ve lived most of my life here. But what does that mean?” 2010
When Fernandes was nine his family immigrated to Newmarket, Ontario where he attended elementary and high school. He received a BFA from York University, Toronto, in 2002 before pursuing an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of Western Ontario, London, ON. In 2006 he completed the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Performing Foe a single-channel video by Fernandes, has received significant critical attention for its nuanced performance of the ties between language and culture. The video features the artist standing in front of a blackboard and reading a passage from South African writer J. M. Coetzee’s 1986 sequel to Daniel Defoe’s classic 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe.