Friday, 19 Jul 2024
Year: 2018

Part of Ocom Adonias’ wall drawing, Doors of No Return.

Transmission at the Kampala Biennale

“There is no contemporary art in Uganda”, remarked independent curator Simon Njami two years ago when he visited Uganda. The outrageous remark stirred up a storm on the Kampala art scene which the perpetrator has ignited at this year’s Kampala Biennale. Seemingly to assert his earlier claim, Njami, the curator of the third edition of the event has invited seven established renowned international artists to set up their studios in Kampala to tutor young artists, to introduce ‘contemporary’ art to Kampala. Matt Kayem was apprentice in KAB18 and participant of the British Council funded critical art writing workshop. He asked himself: did any transmission take place?

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Figure 1: Olu Byron, Hair Plaiting in Nigeria, pencil, 1965, dimensions unknown

Exhibition Making in Enugu and Nsukka, Nigeria: 1960s-1990s

Relying essentially on archival and library research, this article examines the (hi)story of exhibition making in Enugu and Nsukka (the political and educational capitals of Nigeria’s eastern region, respectively), beginning from the immediate postcolonial epoch of the 1960s, through the post-war period of the 1970s to the 1980s-1990s, historical periods when Nigerian artists constructed and consolidated their own perspectives on aesthetic modernism.

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To create the future, we must first understand the past. Image: Centre for Critical Heritage Studies

From Archival Articles to Future Festivals – Editorial June

With a season of arts and music festivals drawing near, this issue of Start Journal invites the Kampala arts community not only to look ahead to the opportunities of future festivals but to look back on where art in Kampala has come from, and how the last six years, the last two decades, even the last fifty have led to this point. By our recent new member of the editorial team Gloria Kiconco.

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Image: Modern Refugees, The difference between Africa’s refugees and their West counterparts was that there was hope behind the barbed wires.

Revitalising Ugandan Bark-Cloth – Concerns of the regime artist

Artist Fred Mutebi advocates for reviving the indigenous art forms. He is embarking on a new project using printmaking on 100% bark-cloth paper as an alternative surface. “Let us join our minds to strengthen Ugandan bark-cloth resumption by moving it from tradition to economics. The remaining elderly bark-cloth artisans need our support in their struggle of passing on skills to the youth.”

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Kagayi Ngobi (image fb profile)

Poetry of Memory is Voice, Not Words

“When the late Joseph Walugembe was still the Director of the Uganda National Theatre, he once explained to my friends and I of the Lantern Meet of Poets how our poetry was different from that of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I recall him emphasizing how the memorized and dramatized performance of our poetry was the main ingredient. Up to that point I had never considered memorized oral expression of poetry even as aspects of poetry”. Kagayi Ngobi talks about his journey into poetry.

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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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View of the exhibition Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, the Senegalese story, at Whitechapel Gallery London, 1995. Photo: Clémentine Deliss.

The Meaning of Contemporary African Art: Networks, Mobility, and Production

In this article Moses Serubiri presents a short history of africa95, the Royal Academy of Arts initiated platform.  Using this exhibition as a case study for the development of a contemporary African art discourse, the paper raises questions about the subjective frameworks informing contemporary African art exhibitions, such as collecting of artworks, historical methodology, accessible networks, mobility, and the expansion of artistic discourses.

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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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