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Meloe Gennai | Residency

South Africa | Multi-Disciplinary

February 2020 & March-April 2023 — Multi-Disciplinary

Meloe Gennai

Is one of the artists awarded a 2020 Pro Helvetia Studio Residency.

View artist website

Meloe Gennai is a Geneva-based poet, performer and artivist. Their work centres imaginaries from disabled, neurodivergent, mad, transgender cultures.

For the first phase of their residency in February 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa, Meloe aims to connect, exchange and collaborate with other poets of mixed heritage to explore different histories and identities. “I am mindful and looking for rituals of positionality related to being a person of European and African ancestry, the story of slavery in my ancestry, and being read as a light skinned person of colour living in western Europe,” they explain.

Their research will potentially inform later performance and literary projects. Meloe approaches the research through questions: “How the history of our families meets the bigger picture of the construction of the ‘race’ myth. What is our understanding of belonging? How much time and space do we need to determine ourselves? And is our self-determination enough to build a community? Do we need each other? Are we a bridge between people or are we our own land?”

Following the first phase of their residency Meloe and X collective X created the video-based artivist work “Venus Ascending” in 2021 featuring Cape Town based artist Akudzwe Elsie Chiwa.

During the second phase of their residency in Cape Town from 1 March to 17 April 2023 Meloe will continue looking for rituals of positionality related to their embodied history. They will also be focusing on trans disabled storytelling with the aim of the residency informing their writing, activism and artivism work. Meloe looks to meet artists and people in these intersections with the hope to work and sustain equal collaborations across continents, trans identities, gender expressions and navigations through space.


A poet, Meloe Gennai works with image and writing in movement in a performative practice that aims to centre imaginaries from disabled, neurodivergent, mad, transgender cultures. Their artistic practice is deeply rooted in an activism informed by their early upbringing in the Black radical tradition, and by rituals of positionality which they share in interactive performances. They are active internationally through X collective X, an organisation of collectively publishing poets and artists. Meloe’s work overturns and challenges societal constructs, in an always intersectional (ref: Kimberlé Crenshaw) attempt at a drive towards a radical present-futurity. Their second book, “On m’adorait“, released in February 2023, is an exploration of the fluidities in selective mutism with a focus on resonances through Black trans disabled ancestries. Meloe’s debut theatre play, “SNOB*” (October 2022), focused on gestures of resistance to adaptation and assimilation as well as neurodivergent body languages.