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