How do we engage with cultural heritage that is entwined with colonial history? What special role do museums play in this context and how do we want their role to look like in the future?
These questions were the foundation for a two-day workshop which took place on 20thand 21st of June 2017 and was initiated by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala. The event was kicked-off by a
presentation of Yvette Mutumba, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the art magazineContemporary And (C&) – Platform for International Art from African Perspectives and senior guest researcher of the project African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic (2015 – 2018). On the basis of “Foreign Exchange”, an exhibition that Yvette Mutumba co-curated at the Museum of World Cultures in Frankfurt, Germany, she presented how artistic interventions as part of innovative curatorial practice enable museums with ethnographic collections to re-contextualize objects of colonial history.
This fruitful impetus was followed by presentations by two Ugandan visual artists talking about their artistic practice. Printmaker Fred Mutebi presented his endeavor to produce high-quality printing paper out of the locally produced and culturally-rooted material of bark cloth and additionally presented his concept of the “living museum”. A second presentation was offered by Xenson who gave insights into his performative works employing bark cloth in order to draw upon relevant topics on a local and global level.
The second workshop day started at the Uganda National Museum, where participants were given a tour of the ethnography section of the permanent exhibition, which allowed for some reference to the presentations of the first day. This was followed by an insight by Richard Asiimbwe and Abiti Nelson into the work and challenges the Uganda Museum is currently facing and led to a subsequent focus on the museum as one example of how to display and engage with cultural heritage.
A heterogeneous group of about 30 artists, curators, anthropologists as well as art critics and museum employees discussed the presented topics and ideas of both days before entering into a group-work-phase. This was the time for concrete brainstorming about the challenges that arise when presenting and working with cultural heritage in Uganda, about ideal solutions and, most importantly, about realistic first steps of actions. Thereafter, the groups presented their discussion outcomes to all – the foundation for even more debating about the displaying of cultural heritage in Uganda, the role of the Uganda National Museum and the engagement of artist in this process. We thank all participants for their great commitment!
One of the participants reflects:
>> I was excited about this workshop as an avid reader and student of African pre-history. I wanted to know what this meant. I think there has been a falsification of African consciousness and I wanted to understand how one goes about decolonizing a museum and its artifacts because I’m also interested in the decolonization of the African mind.The work of Yvette Mutumba is impressive, she has a great mind and I love the publication C& which her team is responsible for. As I say in one of my poems, ‘To lift the needle off the vinyl and place it in a different groove’.
We need to see and hear different perspectives on Africa which include our own narratives.
I definitely gained insight into what is happening with our own Ugandan Museum. I went there as an artist looking forward to an opportunity to engage with the artifacts and create new pieces of work informed by that interaction, but what I learnt was that the staff of the museum works in an environment where their hands are tied, which makes it hard for them to innovate and try new things. That even though Western museums talk about decolonising their institutions, this does not involve returning ‘objects’ back to their African owners.
On the second day we brainstormed possible solutions to challenges, brought forth ideas for the museum to interact with artists to bring new energy into the museum space. The suggestions were endless, but I’m unsure if they will be implemented because our minds are still colonised as was reflected by some of the comments on the roles of women and what we do ‘behind the scenes’ in support of culture and conservation. Patriarchy in full effect cloaked in culture.
I believe with planning anything is possible even the unexpected. However, before we can begin to work with the museum as artists, there needs to be some kind of framework as to how the partnership will work. I’m hoping some of the great ideas can be actioned by museum staff but as the saying goes: ‘You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’. <<
Ife Piankhi is a Poet, Creative Facilitator and Installationist.
For another participant’s review, see Philip Balimunsi’s blog article.
(Re)Thinking Feminism and Black Womanhood
With the aim to stimulate a dialogue between female artists and writers with different geographical and professional background, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala organized the project “(Re)Thinking Feminism and Black Womanhood” in September 2016 which comprised of a 10 days’ private workshop alongside three public events: a reading, a pop up exhibition and a symposium. The workshop was based on an exploration of feminist theories and aesthetics through voices, positions and perspectives from African and African diasporian women. Part of this process was the conceptualization and production of artworks and text as innovative proposals for the next generation of women artists and writers.
The project was motivated by the fact that in our globalized world we still find fewer women – and in particular women with an African or African diasporian background – within the circuits of the international art world. The same has to be stated for artworks by female artists in art collections, both private and institutional. Thus, female artists are less visible and their works less distributed among the networks of the globalized art world.In a bid to contribute to broader discussions of the reasons for the relative absence of female artists and writers in the global art circuits, the project brought together visual artists and writers to reflect on various aspects of Western and African Feminisms in relation to their own work but also in relation to the situation of women in their respective societies.
During the workshop, participants made presentations about their artistic practices as well as readings and discussions of academic texts. One of the concepts that were most discussed was that of NEGO Feminism which can be defined in contrast to individualistic “career feminism” and which is based on mutual support of a community. The need of self-organized Third Spaces was also mentioned as a way to achieve more independence from the established patriarchal and racist institutions in the global art world.
A public reading, pop up exhibition and Symposium took place on 8th, 9th and 10th respectively. Two participants: Jumoke Verissimo and Juliet Kushaba read from their published and unpublished works and the Ugandan writer Doreen Baingana prepared an essay about creative writing and Feminism for the Public reading held at the Goethe-Zentrum Library. The pop up exhibition at 32° East/Ugandan Arts Trust showed the work that the participants had created during the project with mixed media: installations, video and performance. Many aspects of the discussions that were had in the workshop were reflected in the art pieces: domestic work of women, sexuality, motherhood and self-liberation. The symposium took place at the Uganda Museum with participants from the academia, the visual arts, politics, the judiciary and media, the focus was much larger and went beyond the arts
The heterogeneous group in terms of origin and professional experience consisted of six visual artists: Sonia Barrett (Germany), Syowia Kyambi (Kenya), Nancy Mteki (Zimbabwe), Abe Stacey Gillian (Uganda), Immy Mali (Uganda), Sheila Nakitende (Uganda) and three writers: Jumoke Verissimo (Nigeria), Gloria Kiconco (Uganda), Juliet Kushaba (Uganda).
The workshop was funded and supported by CKU, Iwalewahaus, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Goethe-Institut Lagos, Goethe-Zentrum Harare, Uganda Museum, 32° East and Femrite.
The third edition of the Sadolin MabARTi Challenge has come with a momentum that demonstrates the giant strides that this event has taken, citing the enthusiasm with which artists are enrolling into the project, punctuated by the dynamism exuded in the works that are being produced. Running under the banner of “Colours of Urban Nature” as this year’s theme, the participating artists spared no energy in visually depicting Kampala city in all its wealth and diversity through a multiplicity of styles. An army of twenty three emerging and mid-level career artists stormed the different parts of the city with a singular vision – to paint the colours of urban nature and win a cash prize that was up for grabs. More than that, they gladly agreed to join the ongoing efforts to bring art to the public space, courtesy of Sadolin Paints Ltd, Uganda’s premier paint manufacturer.
The Sadolin MabARTi Challenge arguably falls under the domain of public art, which essentially implies taking art to the public arena so as to be accessed by all. Contemporary art has, since its advent in Uganda some seven decades ago, been condemned to art galleries that are the preserve of certain classes of people while the wider public remains oblivious of its existence. In general terms, public art is a communal activity; its reach can be powerful for communities and neighborhoods. Artists realize a democratic ideal in outdoor settings that are free to all viewers. In the same token, the public role in public art is essential to the artist. People enliven a work, are inspired and intrigued, motivated and provoked. Moreover, this is an issue that the jury deliberated on, albeit in the passing, while attempting to understand how the audience actually responds to the MabARTi, thus raising such questions as: Is there a relationship between the content and the audience? Do the largely mobile audiences even take notice of the art works via their car windows or while simply walking by? It goes without saying that art’s ‘publicness’ rests in the quality and impact of its exchange with its audiences. Without the panelists attempting to answer these rhetoric questions, one thing stood out clear: the Sadolin MabARTi Challenge is growing in potential to change the public perception of art, slowly but surely. Through persistence the public will surely become liberated from its visual unawareness and ultimately the artist will be the net beneficiary of this eventual enlightenment. As in the previous two editions, the artists in contention were required to work independently on sites allocated to them by the organizers. Aware of the challenges of working on a corrugated surface, they had to come up with convincing compositions with evidence of mastery of colour, pictorial construction and thematic interpretation. The result was a blend of ideas ranging from extremely abstracted representations of Kampala’s skyline reduced to bare geometrical colourful shapes to the more realistic busy Kampala streets choking with human and motorized traffic. There was also a noticeable presence of humanity in nearly all the compositions portraying the demeanor and resilience of the human spirit latent in the city dwellers. As usual the panelists had to face the tough moment of choosing the winning pieces out of the pool of equally well-executed works. This notwithstanding, we had to be guided by the artists’ originality of vision and spontaneity of expression in underscoring the element of painting the colours of urban nature, as the theme suggests. There was no ambivalence in the jury’s decision on the winning piece by Gilbert Musinguzi titled Kampala Kuyiiya. To the credit of the artist, the panelists were in agreement on his choice of depicting the urban realities of Kampala City that nearly everyone is familiar with; the hustle and bustle of people trading in all manner of goods. The construction of the composition right from the foreground shows a sea of humanity engaged in trade to the background where we see the pinnacle of the work culminating from the hill-like perspective that is characteristic of the undulating landscape of Kampala city. The choice and distribution of colours in the work completes the icing on the cake. The first and second runners-up equally exhibited their ingenuity in not only the creative display of colour but also the compelling compositions in relation to the theme. That said, the jury wishes to thank all those that participated in this year’s edition of the Sadolin MabARTi Challenge and we all look forward to the next edition.
Many thanks to Sadolin Paints Ltd and Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/ UGCS.
Traversing Soweto streets, backyards in Nairobi, dusty Jordanian alleys, Peregrinate invites viewers to consider the intimate politics of home and belonging, as well as the possibilities inherent in dislocation, or a lack of anchoring, and the routes one takes to find a way. Sub-titled ‘field notes on time travel and space’, the exhibition examines notions of spatial politics, the economics of time and travel, and the kinds of access granted to travelers.
The travels of three different wanderers are juxtaposed as temporal sculptures to chronicle the personal experience of journeying within the home, neighborhood and country, as well as the act of departing for distant places.
Peregrinate features the work of three photographers: South Africans Musa Nxumalo and Thabiso Sekgala, and Kenyan Mimi Cherono Ng’ok. The exhibition explores the concept of photography as a common method of investigation, discovery and representation – an act of wandering undertaken by the photographer as traveler and explorer.
To be seen till 3rd October 2015 at Makerere Art Gallery.
Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm, Sunday on appointment.
We are living in a more and more visualized world where moving images have become a consistent part of our everyday life (watching advertisements on screens at public spaces, TVs at home or in restaurants and shops, sharing videos and pictures on social media, etc.). Visual impulses catch people’s attention and easily engage audiences.
In many cities like Kampala advertisement, popular TV shows, sport event transmissions and music videos are presented on big screens at traffic junctions, in restaurants and shops. The selection of videos is rather similar.
By using the known to promote the unknown we want to make use of moving images to promote art in public space.
Film is a popular medium within the Ugandan art scene, yet finding audiences for film outside the mainstream is difficult. By programming different approaches on and within film the event seeks to promote those unknown visual impulses, not only exposing them to new audiences, but also exposing the audiences to new visual material, information and possibilities. At the same time Moving Images Vol. 1 is exploring the infrastructure and settings of Kampala, but also activating and reimagining common spaces – Kampala Road becomes a walkabout to discover visual arts.
In 7 selected TV Shops along Kampala Road you will find 27 works of all sorts of genres, from short film over documentaries and music videos to video art.
The series ‘Art in Public Space’ was launched by GZK/UGCS in 2013, seeking to make art more accessible to a broad Ugandan society, since it is still very much reserved to a small part that has the means to access theatres, galleries, cinemas and similar spaces. By engaging new audiences we hope to, on a long-run help, sensitize the society for the importance of art and culture – important means to achieve freedom of expression.
The series also offers a new challenge and feedback for the participating artists: on the one hand artists are encouraged to ‘conquer’ new audiences and on the other hand it gives them the opportunity to receive feedback different from the comments within the common setting of their art.
Within the exhibition there will be further related events in the week of 2nd to 7th February:
Opening on Monday 2nd Feburary, 4pm at Papyrus Terrace on Kampala Road, followed by a guided tour through the participating shops.
Panel discussion on Wedneday 4th, 6.30pm at Papyrus Terrace, about ‘Using the known to promote the unknown: film making and its audiences’.
‘Your Film, your Audience’ on Friday 6th February at 7pm: an open screening for films and videos (not longer than 10 minutes each) brought by the guests.
You will find more information about the additional programme on our homepage under ‘events’ and on the project blog. (find the link below) On the project blog you will also find further information on the selected films and videos, the film makers and the participating TV shops, as much as a map.
The ‘Art in Public Space: Moving Images Vol. 1’ is a collaboration of Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/ Ugandan German Cultural Society, Dragonfly Media and Ensi-Ensya Design.
by Sarah Schmoll and Nicole Schnathmann
Eighth Street, Industrial Area Kampala. The capital’s smog seems to be in the background – only because you’re in the middle of it you don’t notice it too much. Spotlights and speakers are set up, people are passing by, they gather around the site, wondering what’s happening. As it is getting dark, Weazher Mayanja is cracking 150 eggs into empty water bottles, adding powder colour. He is one of the three artists involved in Art in Public Space: Capturing Movements.
The first video sequence, in a loop, is projected on the wall that everyone is staring at now. It shows a woman hallucinating in a post-apocalyptic setting: She is running towards the last living tree on earth. But as soon as she gets there she realises it’s dead as everything else. It’s an excerpt from the Kenyan short film Pumzi. To be fair, this is science-fiction but: In 2025 Uganda will have access to less than half of the amount of fresh water that the country had in 1990. Literally all other African states will struggle as well, and some of them a lot worse. East Africa is one of the regions in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Like the audience, Roland Tibirusya sees the sequence for the first time. Within twenty minutes he paints on the wall underneath the projection, he tries to capture the moving images in a still one. Another artist, another sequence. Eric Rwakoma is the next one, inspired by pictures taken by Arthur Kisitu, an artist located in Kampala. They show children burning plastic on a dump site in Katanga, a slum north of Nakasero, Kampala. But the audience cannot only watch him reacting to what he is seeing above him but also to what fellow artist Roland had painted just minutes ago, they are working on the same spot. Finally, Weazher Mayanja completes the collage with brush strokes inspired by Bill Macdonald’s sad yet beautiful underwater pictures of plastic items drifting on the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
What they created might be called a collage of the attempt to fix a moving image, suggesting that movements can be stopped. Yet these are natural colours exposed to nature and pollution. For the next four weeks the wall will be photographed every day to capture the process that has only just started.
This project was organised by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/ Ugandan German Cultural Society and supported by National Housing Ltd., KfW Development Bank, and Orange Uganda.
By Dennis Große-Plankermann
The Sadolin MabARTi Challenge was created by Sadolin Paints Uganda Ltd and Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/ Ugandan German Cultural Society to support the presence of art in public space and encourage Ugandan artists to reach out to new audiences. After a successful first round in 2011, the challenge took place for the second time in June 2014, again sponsored by Sadolin Paints Uganda and organized in partnership with Laba! Arts Festival and the Goethe-Zentrum/ Ugandan German Cultural Society. The shared intention is to enable a number of contemporary visual artists to express themselves in public space, this time under the theme “Your Colour, your World”.
During an application period, the organizers called for visual artists to participate in the challenge. A professional jury representing members of the art and cultural scene in Kampala selected the participants amongst the applying known and upcoming artists who were then allocated to locations picked by the organizers all over Kampala. At the official press launch on the Sadolin premises, the participating artists were announced to the public and the art kits to equip the artists for their work during the period of the challenge were handed over.
Starting that day, 28 artists had one week to create an original artwork, each of them onto a different 3×2 metre sized mabaati sheet to be seen by everyone. While the task challenged the artists to express themselves in a new setting and on a new medium, they used the opportunity to present their skills and style to the public.
The challenge resulted in a great variety of artworks, each of them responding to the theme in their own unique way. In the end, the jury chose four artists to be the winners of this 2nd Sadolin MabARTi Challenge: Jude Kasagga (1st prize), Alex Kwizera (2nd prize), Ocom Adonias (3rd prize) and Saad Lukwago (3rd prize) convinced the jury with their artworks in response to the theme, the environment and the everyday life of Kampala but also through the artistic expression and use of colour. The four of them won cash prizes as well as the opportunity to display more of their artworks in a group exhibition following the challenge.
The Sadolin MabARTi Challenge Art Exhibition was officially opened on 3rd July 2014 at the Uganda Museum with a small catering, drinks and a short musical intervention by the Ugandan musician Kaz Kasozi. Part of the programme was the official handover of the prizes through Chris Nugent, managing director of Sadolin Paints Uganda. As an appreciation of all final mabaati artworks, the results had been printed in a collective catalogue which was handed out to the participating artists and sold to the public at the exhibition opening. The opening event attracted many visitors interested to find out more about the challenge and the winning artists – this mirrors the success of the project’s idea of reaching more people by presenting Ugandan artists in the public space.
Sadolin Paints Uganda deserves a big thank you for enabling this project, which gives artists more visibility and a new audience while setting a statement to support artistic interventions in the public space. We hope there will be similar initiatives in the future that, like the MabARTi Challenge, contribute to the idea of creating art that can be appreciated by Kampala’s communities and enables interaction with the city and its people.
A special thank you goes to the jury:
Rose Kirumira (artist and lecturer at Makerere University), Collin Sekajugo (artist and director of Weaver Bird Arts Foundation) and Bamuturaki Musinguzi (cultural journalist for the East African), Carolin Christgau (director of GZK/UGCS) and Chris Nugent (managing director of Sadolin Paints Uganda Ltd).
The face of Kampala was changed by all participants of the 2nd Sadolin MabARTi Challenge:
Alex Kwizera, Carson Buka, Charity Atukunda, Darsan Ainembabazi, Denis Mubiru, Doddridge Busingye, Dungu Michael, Charity Kansiime, Gilbert Musinguzi, Gilbert Kafuuma, Ibrahim Muwanga, Jimmy John Ogwang, Johnbosco Muramuzi, Jovan Kiganda, Jude Kasagga, John Baptist Sekubulwa, Kenneth Otelu, Muhammad Sebandeke, Nduhira Sadat, Ocom Adonias, Paul Kasambeko, Paul Kintu, Richard Wasike, Ronnie Chris Tindi, Saad Lukwago, Simon Peter Katumba, Smith Bate Joabell and Immaculate Mali.
by Lena Fritsch
Sadolin Paints and the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala created the first MabARTi Challenge — Art in Public Space: 31 selected artists, both up-coming and with a broadly-based appreciation, painted to colour the every-day lives of Ugandans.
From 18th to 26th June 2011, the 31 works were painted across Kampala’s inner city on corrugated iron (known in Uganda as Mabaati Sheets) sheets, which are usually provided by Sadolin Paints to shield construction sites. They now are a landmark of the brightness and contrast art implements in public space.
A jury of five, consistent of Prof. Dr. George Kyeyune, Professor of Art at the Makerere University, artists Josephine Mukasa and Roshan Karmali and a representative of Sadolin and Goethe-Zentrum Kampala respectively, decided upon the four winners of the competition.
All winners of the competition received a cash prize and will be able to organise an exhibition on account of Sadolin Paints and Goethe-Zentrum Kampala. Their exhibitions will contain the winning submissions and other works by the artist.
12 artists, 12 locations, 12 containers
In October 2012 the first Kampala Contemporary Art Festival was happening in the streets of Kampala. Under the title „12 BOXES MOVING“ 12 shipping containers were distributed in the city, transformed by 12 Ugandan and international artists to serve as individual exhibition spaces in public places and as a platform to showcase Uganda’s visual art. The bi-annual event was a unique collaboration between eight art organisations in Kampala: 32° East|Ugandan Arts Trust, Afriart Gallery, AKA Gallery, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, Alliance Française Kampala, Makerere Art Gallery/IHCR, Nommo Gallery and Uganda Museum.
A great variety of sculptures, photography, videos, installations, fashion, collages, paintings and performances have been presented during the festival. The artists even left their four walls of the container behind and invited the public to interact with the artworks.
The artists have been selected through an open call and an artist workshop. The participating artists were: Bwambala Ivan Allan, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Eria Nsubuga ‘Sane’, Eric Mukalazi, Lilian Mary Nabulime, Ronex, Ruganzu Bruno, Sanaa Gateja, Stella Atal, Sue Crozier Thorburn, Waswad and Xenson.
The artists dealed with topics like human rights, urban youth-culture in Kampala and remembered 50 years of Independence in Uganda. Others reflected critically about health and traffic problems in Kampala and environmental pollution, unequal power relations within the cloth production on the global economy market or documented traditional Ugandan cultural sites. The artists often used available, recycled and natural materials, cloths and found objects and promoted ecological awareness.
Pictures of the 12 containers!
KLA ART 012 aimed to promote the contemporary art scene in Uganda, explore new and innovative ways of creating art and presenting outcomes to the public. In doing so, art left its place within art venues and museums and was made accessible to the public space. This happend truly, since a wider public was addressed, also people who are not touched by art in their daily life.
The 12 containers could have been visited for free from the 7th to the 14th of October at the different sites in Kampala’s public space, like the Railway Station, Kisementi Parking lot and close to the participating venues. Apart from the exhibitions there was an additional artistic program during the week, like film screenings, art talks and interactive projects at the different container.
The Festival ended on the 14th October with a big closing party at the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala during which the International Jury was announcing the Award Winners. The International Jury was formed by Nadine Siegert from the Iwalewa-Haus in Bayreuth (Gemany), Raphael Chikukwa from the National Gallery in Zimbabwe, Sylvia N. Gichia from Kuona Trust in Kenya, Danda Jaroljmek from the Circle Art Agency in Kenya and the artsist and professor George Kyeyune from Uganda.
The artist Ronex Ahimbisibwe won a 2 month residency at the Iwalewa-Haus in Bayreuth, Bwambale Ivan Allan won a 2 month residency at Kuona Trust in Nairobi and Xenson won the public art award from 32° East in Kampala.
KLA ART 012 is a good example of how art interventions can influence public space and the societies.
Please visit for more information the official KLA’ART 012-Homepage.
We had a skype exchange session with India, we had some Breakdance Cyphers and rappers on stage and we saw Joel Sames fantastic photo exhibition “Round the Potholes”. All together at one nice place in Bugolobi, called the Fas Fas.Photographer Joel Sames has been following Street Culture activities around the globe. His photographs allow an insight into the skateboarding, breakdance and Hip-Hop scenes of Afghanistan, India, Cambodia and Uganda. Joel especially focuses on programs and organizations using the empowering qualities of those subcultures in the field of development cooperation and peace work.
The exhibition “Round the Potholes” presented on the one side kids who were hitting the streets of Kabul on their skateboards, performing an “oli” or practicing at empty places in their hometowns.
On the other side the exhibition allowed an inside view to the Breakdane Project Uganda which was founded in February 2006. BPU uses breakdance and other elements of the Hip Hop culture as a tool to empover and unite young people and provide them with skills and confidence to become active, socially conscious individuals. Joel Sames escorted BPU for more than one month, documenting the work with his camera. His own eyes were sometimes even faster than the moves of the B-Boys to obtain the perfect photo. The camera worked as some kind as a bridge between the breakdancers, their goals and the viewers. But not only the camera and the photos give people a platform to be heard. There was one more magical thing at the exhibition, which was responsible for the awesome atmosphere: The Street Culture.
Street Cultures like skateboarding, breakdancing and street art have the fascinating potential to bring people of different backgrounds together, bridging the gap between their social and cultural differences, and thus creating an opportunity for exchange and cooperation. Hip Hop, skateboarding, and BMX are no longer only part of Western culture, but have become global phenomena that are growing especially quickly in Asia.
Many of the people that are involved with these activities have recognized that sport and creative programs can be connected to “Empowerment” and education in a very sensible way. The networks of these various street cultures work in an informal way to overcome language, codes and symbols. Consequently, heritage, religion, skin color, or social status are pushed into the background. All in all it´s a big family. You can feel the spirit and motivation of young people who are hungry for the next challenge.