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Artist impression of group photo of participants at the First Conference of African Writer of English Expression, Makerere University, 1962 (Illustration: Dada Khanyisa). Image from Chimurenga Chronic.

Art Crossroads with Ugandan Mastery – Interview with Dr. Kyeyune

In anticipation of a busy creative art season kicking off in August 2018 and the KAB18’s “The Studio” concept launched recently, many contemporary artists and audiences lurk within corridors in search of the creative voice of Makerere Art Gallery amidst the prevailing visual discourse. Philip Balimunsi interviews Professor George Kyeyune, Director of Makerere Art Gallery/Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration, about contemporary issues in Uganda. Kyeyune asserts the cultural affluence of Makerere Art Gallery in the East African arts scene.

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Art in Kampala at Work 012

The essay “Art in Kampala at Work 012” is a reflective report by Katrin Klaphake, and it was written in 2013, when the memories were still fresh and present. In 2012, two innovative and unusual public art events took place in Kampala: the international exhibition “Art at Work” and the local contemporary art festival KLA ART. Since then, a lot has happened. 2014 saw two bi-annual art events, the second edition of KLA ART and the launch of the Kampala Art Biennale. Fast forward to 2018: the city is buzzing with cultural and art related activities to the extent that the month of August goes under the title of art month. With the view to these upcoming activities this text reminds us of some of the discussions in the early days of Kampala’s biennalisation and contributes to the writing of the exhibition histories of the city.

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African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic

The research project “African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic” examines artworks of African Modernisms housed in museum collections. This first set of contributions for Start – Journal of Arts and Culture is the result of a public symposium at the Uganda National Museum in 2016 held as fringe event of the Kampala Art Biennale. In the coming months, the series will be continued with papers on a variety of topics related to African Modernisms and its contemporary relevance.

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Jantien Zuurbier

Startjournal 2018: New Media, Channels and Connections – Editorial

The Journal has always aspired to be an indigenous-driven publication critically analysing and documenting contemporary arts and culture in Uganda. It would be even more valuable if the content of StartJournal is influencing the mainstream societal narratives. With this in mind we are now developing a larger communication strategy with the aim to connect the Startjournal content to other media. We foresee to increase the visibility of StartJournal content by pushing it to newspapers, news programs on TV and Radio and through social media channels.

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The Boda Moment. Positioning Socially-Engaged Art in Contemporary Uganda

In this article Carlos Garrido Castellano examines two socially engaged Ugandan art projects: the Disability Art Project Uganda (DAPU), and Lilian Nabulime’s AIDS sculpture. By analyzing both initiatives, I attempt to characterize a new moment in the relations between artistic practice and social intervention in the Ugandan context. I argue that projects such as DAPU and Nabulime’s are confronting the current Ugandan situation of economic and political transformation, marked by the weight of the informal and the challenge of a nation-based cultural sphere. Finally, I point out some similarities with other African socially-engaged art initiatives.

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The art we make, the words we profess

It is almost a year since the rebirth of Start journal. Artists write about their work and that of other artists. Art historians theorise and contextualise art, locating the social and political circumstances out of which it arises. Exhibition reviews are invaluable, as are readers’ comments both digitally on the journal pages and in live conversations. Editor in Chief Margaret Nagawa gives an overview of what was published in the latest issue.

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Plate 2: Abstract image of Kampala made by Canon and hosted on his website. (http://www.urbanunkindness.com/)

There is little I can say about Canon that he would agree with

Canon should be described as an artist before a photographer. From both his art and being in his company it is undeniable that he is one of the most uncompromising people I have ever met. Attempting to present Canon has proven to be the most challenging part of a longer study on Kampala’s urban photographers and artists and I feel that it is necessary to disclaim the highly subjective nature of my attempts to do so. – By Alex L. Rogerson

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Plate 1 Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991. This artwork became a symbol for experimental Young British Art in the 1990s. Source: damienhirst.com

Why Damien Hirst is the greatest artist ever and why every artist should try to emulate him

“Why should an artist live and die as a pauper? Why would an artist be harshly criticized for making a living out of their gift? Why should an artist want to shift the laws of living? Why should artists not stand tall and say they want to be successful and rich?” These are the questions Matt Kayem asks himself.

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Visitors at the exhibition opening night at Design Hub Kampala

Encounters with Art: The Inaugural Children’s Book Illustrator’s Exhibition

Think back to that moment when you first realized the possibility of any art form. As a writer, I easily trace that back to reading as a child. I still believe that the worlds I explored through books, the lives I lived through books, have made all the difference in who I am and what I do as an adult. Gloria Kiconco attended the first ever Children’s Book Illustrator’s Exhibition at Design Hub Kampala.

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Ife Piankhi in Residence at 32° East

Ife Piankhi is a recent artist in residence at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust where she explored communal trauma, communal healing and identity through poetry, painting, woodwork and collage arts. Ife explored these themes and a variety of materials from May to July of 2017. She also hosted two community conversations to exchange stories and viewpoints concerning transatlantic slavery, personal stories of migration and where the possibilities for healing lie. A video by Nikissi Serumaga-Jamo.

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This was a grey Datsun Nissan Pickup truck, registration UYU 066. My Dad got this much later to fetch food from the farm on Jinja Road and take us back to various boarding schools. The moment in the picture was taken at Katwe on our way home to Makindye from the farm. This car’s family name was Kaddangadi.

Katwe, a genuine pleasure

By Annette Sebba These and many more memories have been triggered by the 2016 Uganda movie, Queen of Katwe. I agree with Olly Richards of the Sunday Times, United Kingdom, that even with a clearly signposted ending, the movie still

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Fig. 1 Margaret Trowell, Mother and Child (1940s). Lino print, unknown measurements. Reproduced from Kakande Angelo’s PhD 2008

Re-reading the Warps and Wefts in Trowell’s Mother and Child Print: Debates and Contests

Margaret Trowell has been called the ‘mother of contemporary art in Uganda and a feminist’ (Tumusiime 2012). This is because in the mid-1930s she introduced the teaching of contemporary art at Makerere University and wrote widely on issues concerning family, women and children. On the other hand, she also created art though only few of her artworks are in Uganda. However, on my part I am interested in a lino print, entitled Mother and Child (1940s), whose visual archive I have accessed through George Kyeyune (2003) and Angelo Kakande (2008). The print captures a dominant sitting mother-figure wrapped in white cloth and nursing a child. Trowell’s print seems to suggest the earliest expressions of her self-activism to emancipate mothers and children through modern art. I re-read Trowell’s Mother and Child and its multiplicity of meanings. I re-engage it to retrace the threads of the colonial hegemony that wove together Trowell’s instruction of modern art in Uganda. This debate is essential. It sets the gendered pedestal on which contemporary art in Uganda was born and became interlaced with – to use Trowell’s words – ‘warps and wefts’ (Trowell 1957) This paper, therefore, marks our entry into the gendered discourses that have continued to shape Uganda’s modern art to the present.

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Dr. Angelo Kakande Chair, Department of Industrial Art and Applied Design, Startjournal editor

Editorial: Returning to the archive: It is still rich, accessible and usable!

This issue demonstrates that the available archive of the history of Uganda’s visual culture is still rich, accessible and usable. However, it could shape a conversation on the country’s creative discourse if (and only if) we looked at it again and looked at it hard enough. Dr. Angello Kakande gives an overview of the articles in this Feb – May 2017 Issue.

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