“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?Read More >>
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.Read More >>
The documentation and representation of an event is never objective but individual and biased. This is most apparent when you have the privilege of both, being a team member and an observer of a key art event like the KampalaRead More >>
Art and the “Ghost” of “Military Dictatorship”: Expressions of Dictatorship in Post-1986 Contemporary Ugandan Art
By Angelo Kakande. Although military dictatorship has distorted governance, the rule of law and constitutionalism, and caused fear, hopelessness, loss of life and property throughout Uganda’s post-colonial history, it is also a rich and productive metaphor whose visual expression is steeped in a corrupted Western concept[ion] of modern public opinion. In this article I engage this proposition to re-examine selected artworks in the context of Uganda’s socio-political history in the period 1986-2016 – a period of Uganda’s history dominated by the ruling National Resistance Movement (also called the NRM).Read More >>
By Martha Kazungu. In August 2016, during a meeting where I was invited to be part of the team to share ideas on how to re-establish and run the Start Art journal, artist Margaret Nagawa, who is also the pioneering person in the effort to revamp Start Art Journal, suggested to me to develop a short narrative essay talking about my role as Curatorial Assistant in the 2016 Kampala Art Biennale.Read More >>
Recently I was listening to this ballad by Fela Anikulapo Kuti where he asserted that it is in the Western cultural tradition to carry sh*t. That Africans were taught by European man to carry sh*t. Dem go cause confusion and corruption’. How? Dem get one style dem use, dem go pick up one African man with low mentality and give him 1 million Naira bread to become one useless chief.
Artist Henry Mzili Mujunga speaks his mind about interference within the art scene in Africa.
“Contemporary artists working on the African continent should concentrate on their soil. Dig it. Find its treasure and secrets and come up with something that will shake the world.”
Startjournal talks to Simon Njami, Independent Curator of contemporary art, Lecturer, Art Critic and Novelist about some contentious issues currently dominating discussion about contemporary African art.Read More >>