Category: Special analysis

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Art of Appropriation: The Ready-made through the Eyes of Matt Kayem

Visual artist Matt Kayem explores the concept of found object art and appropriation in art and talke about his own installation at the Kampala Art Biennale. It makes everything look easy but it requires an eye for aesthetics, and a creative mind to choose an item to speak volumes. The process of selection is a tedious one as the artist has to think and look for an object that will best represent and communicate their concept.

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Global Connections: Elise Atangana on 2nd Kampala Art Biennale

By Moses Serubiri. The Kampala Art Biennale emerged in 2014, organized by the Kampala Arts Trust. It was billed erroneously as the “first biennale in Africa” in the Observer newspaper. Not surprisingly, the biennale was isolated from the Kampala Contemporary Art Festival – KLA ART, its predecessor in 2012. The Kampala Art Biennale premier edition, held at the Uganda Museum, was themed Progressive Africa, and its artistic director was artist-educator Henry Mzili Mujunga. While the first edition embodied a Pan-African spirit of artistic production, it contradictorily relied on the notion of “tourism”—one of the very funny comments I overheard at the opening was when a panelist compared art sales to gorilla mountain treks. Regardless, the biennale seemed to draw quite a lot of local press and drew in large crowds who came to see the Pan-African selection of artworks on display. This year, Moses Serubiri talks to the curator of the 2nd Kampala Biennale, Elise Atanganga.

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