Some of you will probably remember the art sculpture made of used plastic bottles, in Ugandan-German colours at the LaBa! Street Art Festival 2011, but would not remember the creator’s name: Bruno Ruganzu.
Bruno is an artist who loves to experiment with different materials, shapes and structures. He is inspired by his environment, people he spends time with and by Uganda itself.
Bruno was born in the South-West of Uganda in Kabale, which is famous for its gorilla tourism. This was his inspiration to draw paintings of gorillas, trucks and game animals and sell them at camp sites and on the road side. He calls it “art of survival” because he wasn’t creating by himself. “The environment dictated what I was creating.” Bruno Ruganzu is a person who is connected to his origin and who is well-known in his community. He held trainings, workshops, community projects and was the leader of women groups.
After the death of his mother in 2000, he moved to Kisoro to a friend’s house. Two years later he joined the National Teacher College (NTC) in Kabale and got a scholarship because of his excellent marks in art. In 2004 he graduated with a diploma and got one of four governmental scholarships.
At the age of 22 he came to Kampala to study at the Kyambogo University. During his studies he grew with his talent and started practicing Streetart, going to exhibitions and meeting many other artistic people.
For the occasion of the “Networkparty – art in critical space” organised by the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala in 2010 and which took place in an old soap factory, he worked on the theme “HIV/AIDS awareness”. The participating artists were supposed only to use what they found in place to create sculptures and installations. Bruno’s installation was a chair with three legs. His message behind it was a comparison with HIV/AIDS. It’s invisible from outside, but at the moment you get closer, you see that there is something affecting the person. It’s the same with the chair, as soon as you sit down on it you realize that you are going to fall. Bruno’s goal is to spread messages with his art, to encourage people to discuss about it and think about the meaning.
During his studies he invented the “Art out of the box” which means nothing more than art in public space. He complains: “We actually have no space in public.” Artists struggle a lot showing their art and getting attention although there is actually much space. But it’s not allowed using it for art – think about all those roundabouts or empty green spaces in town. Bruno demands: “We need free space for art.”
The hand that speaks
One of his most impressing installations is called “The hand that speaks” and is a massive hand construction out of the bottoms of over 20.000 plastic bottles. He set up a group of classmates who constructed a 4×4 meter hand which looks like it reaches something. Bruno’s explanation for his biggest installation is: “Our hand is the one what drops all the rubbish, but the same hand can control the mess by cleaning and creating something new out of it.” He says he wants to find community problems and use art to solve them.
During his time at University he realized that it’s quite hard for young people to find jobs after they leave school. In fact just 2% of the graduates of “Bachelor of Art and Industrial Design” work actually as artists. Bruno’s ideology is: “How can I use my job to create opportunities for others?”. This is the reason why he founded ECOART UGANDA in 2010, a platform for environmental artists who like to send messages with their work.
“My work is sending messages direct and hard – either you take it or not.”
Ecoart Plane for City 2.0 and TEDx Conference in Doha
On 17th April 2012 Bruno Ruganzu won the TED Prize for is project City 2.0 at the TEDx Summit in Doha, the capital of Qatar. City 2.0 is about creating ideas that can change cities. The particular importance is a focus on education, culture, environment and innovations.
Bruno’s idea to build an amusement park for children in Kampala using waste materials convinced the jury. The preparations for the park have already started. The perfect place is not yet found but the first play equipments already exists. The ECOART UGANDA plane had its first test drive at LaBa! Street Art Festival on 9th June 2012.
Three questions to the artist:
1. Favourite book: Ben Carson- Gifted hands
2. Place to be: Lake Mutanda, Kisoro “It´s the most beautiful place on earth.”
3. Favourite artist: “That’s hard. But there are a couple of guys who changed my art world: Ronex Ahimbisibwe, Collin Sekajugo (local artists), Edward Ssajjabi (Bruno´s mentor from childhood up to University).”
Contact Bruno Ruganzu
www.facebook.com – Ruganzu Bruno
Mob.: +256 – (0)782 964 446