Category: Opinions

Lost in art, alien in our world

Over the last two decades specific diaspora curators (and theorists) of contemporary African art have become preoccupied with nationalism. Academic minds have tried to explain the internal-external dislocation experienced by the artist. However, the theoretical and thick the arguments do not address this fundamental ‘street’ or self problem.

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Endnotes of Chapter Two

“What is art? What is culture? If you are able to define it, then you know you are in trouble. How does Arts writing come into the picture? There is a myth that it is about judging something from very good to very bad, but the criteria for evaluating artworks are multi-dimensional.” Editor Thomas Bjørnskau writes his farewell note, and hands over Start to a new team.

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Half Man, Half Words

“If there is a truth to be admitted to, I will concede this one; it feels like truth, scabrous, incomplete and grudgingly accepted: being a writer is like going on being married. You arrive at a point in it where you no longer have the energy to learn to live with a new person and hold down your peregrinations.” An essay on writing by Ugandan writer AK Kaiza.

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When Film Imitates Art

“I thought film was an art. … However, it was not long before I discovered that filmmaking is not an art. It’s an expensive hobby. It’s a business. It’s a science, because it relies on technology. It requires managerial skills, diplomacy in dealing with egos, and communication skills—because it’s a collaboration.” An essay on filmmaking by Ugandan filmmaker Dilman Dila.

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A Mind of Its Own

“When I have been surrounded by gracious courteous musicians, the stage has always been a space of incredible intimacy. Those times when I have played in the orchestra have once or twice felt as though I was being swept up by a thunderstorm. You watch the notes lift off the page as you play them; suddenly the world disappears around you.” An essay on music, love and jazz by Serubiri Moses.

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Writing Plays; What Is It?

“More than any other forms of writing, plays are meant to be heard, touched, seen. While writing a script, the playwright is offering an action, an idea to which the audience immediately reacts, individually and collectively, causing the actor in their next line to respond in return and on it goes; approximating life.” An essay on playwriting by Angella J. Emurwon, Ugandan playwright.

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Why Write?

“The doubts hound: Am I really good enough? Who am I to think I have new stories to tell and a new way to tell them? But I have to go on because I have an ego that feeds on words, mine and anyone else’s. I need to prove that I can do it. At the core though, I write in an attempt to make sense of this world. Who and what and why are we? Why do we do what we do, to ourselves and to one another? Why can’t we stop?” An essay on writing by Ugandan writer Doreen Baingana.

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Singing for the Heart

“Right now, with the growth of the creative industry globally and the culture of “bling” as perpetrated by mainstream artists, I think a lot of people think it’s a way to make fast money. It looks glamorous, being on stage, mingling with stars, having lots of money—which is a myth, there is always a price to be paid when signed to a major label—nice clothes, fast cars and beautiful men and women around you, but in fact it is a profession that takes a lot of commitment, practice and hard work.” An essay on singing by Ife Piankhi.

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New Directions in Contemporary Dance

“There is a lot that needs to be done in the form of research and documentation of existing dance initiatives and styles. … Structures that support the growth of dance in Uganda as a whole will provide the much-needed impetus for the sector. … The health sector is also an area that can benefit from dance through body conditioning for injured people. … The utilisation of dance for other purposes, such as dance in education, is vital to the development of a sector that should have mass appeal due to the importance of cultural groupings.” Samuel Lutaaya has fresh ideas for the dance industry in Uganda.

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Art, that that………

Samson Ssenkaaba aka Xenson graduated in 1999 from the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University majoring in graphic design and painting. Since then, his works have been shown in numerous exhibitions and fashion shows in Uganda and abroad. Read his poem ‘Art, that that…….’

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Free Expression by Mzili: Desperate Art

“The enslavement of the African has persisted despite his desire for the liberties of capitalism. The oppressor and his kindred have continued to spread their greedy tentacles to engulf any outcrops of resistance. We cannot breathe the fresh air of liberty because the clever chameleon changes its spot like the dreaded HIV/Aids. These sound like chants straight out of the communist manifesto, but they are simply the lamentations of a hopeless artist whose every move forward has been checked by disparaging stereotypes. One would be quick to assume that art is the last frontier of resistance to this form of suppression and dominance. After all, it is what really defines a people’s existence.” Mzili speaks.

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Censorship and the Arts in Uganda

“As the eighth edition of the Wazo Talking Arts proved, while the expectation is of artists to be at the forefront of debate and to challenge the status quo, artists are also a product of their culture, religion, and politics; their work cannot be separated from their experience. In other words artists are human beings, artists can be frightened, and artists can be ideologically conservative or liberal. If there is one attribute that artists need to create meaningful, challenging, even great work in the face of possible censorship, then that attribute is courage.” Farida Nabalozi reflects on Censorship and the Arts in Uganda.

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The harsh rebirth of professional theatre in Uganda

“The 1970s were for Uganda the years when the lights started to go out. In the ranks of Ugandans who had fled the country, and who never made it out of the decade, and a big rank it was, dramatists were among the number. Soldiers appeared at the National Theatre in 1977 and dragged then director of the National Theatre, Byron Kawadwa from rehearsals. A military tribunal had in secret passed a death sentence on him and five of his colleagues.” AK Kaiza reflects on the recent history of theatres in Uganda.

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Free Expression by Mzili: For the love of a nation

“Politicians in the developed world understand the importance of culture in defining a people. So they support the museums, galleries, theatres and the other public cultural institutions. In Uganda, it is the opposite. The musicians, artists, playwrights and comedians are on their own. They work tirelessly propagating what is unique and definitive about their country.” Henry Mzili Mujunga speaks out.

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The many faces of ART

There are many new ways for Ugandans to be exposed to the arts. Startjournal wanted to find out if all the art that is permeating the air had actually seeped through the skins of the people. We posed the following question to working class Ugandans: Please tell us — what is ART to you?

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Art reflects society and its peculiarities

“Ancient African art was characteristic of realism and consciousness. Be it visual arts, music, literature, if you retrospectively gave it a thought you will realize that these two features were more or less the pillars that aesthetically sustained it; and the underlying reason why a lot of people will still say antique art still surpasses modern art. They dag into a wide range of topics that homed in on politics, romance, social science, and the likes (scruples of this are still apparent). Nonetheless, today I’m afraid I feel that what I comprehend as the true essence of art has been watered down.” Lutakome ‘FELIX’ Fidelis writes for startjournal.

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Fred Mutebi: Art – Bargaining for woman

“The series in this collection are meant to inspire Ugandans and well-wishers to think about giving a woman the opportunity to attend to Uganda’s problems for at least five years come 2016 in order for Uganda to recuperate as well as inspire the upcoming artists to have a new approach to depicting women in their artwork so that we give the women the kind of dignity they most deserve.” Visual artist Fred Mutebi writes for startjournal.

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Awesome! An Art School that is wholesome

Renowned Batik artist Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi has visited the Western Michigan University and writes for startjournal about his journey: “Our discussion touched so many areas of mutual interest. Applied art, the role of art in community development, art therapy, graphic design, textile art—especially batik—and a host of others. The discussion also touches on the centuries old debate of what is and what is not art? We seem to agree that art is best described and appreciated in a cultural context.”

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