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Grace Ndiritu
'Before I became a professional artist I thought my career was to be a global traveller; I'm a transcultural kind of person.' GN.

Responsible Tourism is a new departure. Made during a visit to Mali, the four screen video was filmed with a hand-held camera; rather than using herself as a model, Ndiritu focuses on the people she encounters. Camel riders assemble for a race. The film is looped into a short sequence so that the movement repeats in an apparently endless circle. A group of Tuareg women clap and sing to the beat of a drum; seen from above in a tight cluster, they perform for one another, apparently unaware of the camera. Ndiritu likens the one to a painting and the other to the heightened exoticism of photographs in National Geographic, while the framing was inspired by news coverage of events in Africa.

A group listens to music. A shabbily dressed boy, his eyes gummed up with conjunctivitis, sits beside a well-groomed tourist whose camera is sheathed in plastic to protect it from the dust that cakes the boy's skin and clothing. Ndiritu observes the juxtaposition between rich and poor, foreigners and locals. She is also a foreigner, but her ancestry makes her less of an outsider than the white tourist; yet one senses that she doesn't fully identify with either.

'Its about belonging and not belonging', she says. 'I've lived between the two polarities of being half nomadic (Masai), and half settler (Kikuyu) all my life and now I've come to terms with that. I try to live horizontally and vertically at the same time; I'm aware that if you settle in one place you can delve deeper, but if you move around you have an overview.'

She has many childhood memories of time spent in Kenya visiting relatives. 'In Africa', she says. 'you feel as if you are in the centre of the planet, a human being really living; in the west, I feel like a brain responding to input and stimuli.' Her wrists are tattooed with the phrase 'No Fixed Destiny'.

On the fourth screen, a man cooks lunch over an open fire. The artist follows every move while the long-suffering cook ignores her. Her actions feel intrusive until you discover that she spent several weeks travelling with this man and the video pays homage to his life style. 'That's my kind of life', says Ndiritu. 'The nomadic life is more simple and it makes sense. Here we need help to get our priorities right; we think that because we go to Tesco and drive expensive cars that our society is more advanced; but if this is the pinnacle of human civilization we are fucked. What makes me really angry is that we've brainwashed everyone else into thinking it is so.

'I had a chance to stay in Mali and it was a real dilemma; but if I had stayed and made art just for myself in the middle of the desert it would have been selfish. I have an obligation to contribute to the way society is shaped - to bring things to show people here and change their minds about people over there. I may not be an aid worker, but I can still participate and bring issues to the attention of a wider public. Part of my job is to make work here and to give money to charities such as World Development Movement, Action on Disability and Development and Amnesty International who address a wide range of inequalities in the world today. I'm someone who wakes you up - I like the challenge and I'm ready for it.'

Sarah Kent is an art critic.

Sarah Kent
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