Maria Kayo Mpoyi is the winner of QSPA Inspirational Award

The Swedish artist Maria Kayo Mpoyi is the winner of the QSPA Inspirational Award, a prize for an emerging Nordic artist – either a student or a recent graduate – that enables the winner to enjoy a period of study in New York. The Award was initiated by HM The Queen in memory of the artist Kjell Nupen.

Maria Kayo Mpoyi was born in 1986 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and is a graduate of the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Kayo Mpoyi combines visual art and literature in her artistic practice. She creatively interprets various fragments from archives, a practice she calls «inner archaeology». By weaving fictional stories around objects she finds in national and personal archives, Kayo Mpoyi strives to rediscover the past.

In every piece, she tries to write the autobiographies of her parents, grandparents, or those who came before. Their voices and stories seem lost since they are not recorded in texts or books. Her exploration has taught her that we carry within us remnants of all history. By finding different ways to make herself available to the encoded histories in our bodies, the fiction she weaves around objects and stories can carry understanding and rediscovery of the past.

She draws, carves, prints, writes, and repeats. This multiplying, repetitive process is hoped to generate a language or at least connect her to a cosmology she thought was lost to her. She works with archives, national archives such as museums and books, but mostly she turns to her own archive, such as her mother’s photo album or her father’s handwritten dictionary.

Maria Kayo Mpoyi has written two novels that explore the rediscovery of distorted history and the healing of trauma through fiction: "Mai Betyder Vatten" (2022) (to be released in Norwegian in August 2024 and published by Solum Bokvennen), "En Övning i Revolution" (2022), and the picture book "Kitoko" (2022).

The jury congratulate Maria Kayo Mpoyi on becoming the recipient of the QSPA Inspirational Award for 2024.

Maria Kayo Mpoyi Photo by Kaysa Goransson

Maria Kayo Mpoyi