On October 1st, 2018 Goethe Zentrum/ UGCS Kampala hosted a five-day photography workshop focused on the architectural rootings of African Modernism in the city of Kampala. The workshop was facilitated by architects Manuel Herz and Doreen Adengo accompanied by the photographer and art practitioner James Muriuki.  As the participants came together with backgrounds of both architecture and photography, the workshop offered a great platform for creative exchange and interdisciplinary discourse. 

©Tony Black Wolf

Within five days the group explored the city of Kampala and collected a great number of pictures reflecting their individual process of creating a narrative and their unique view on African Modernism as an architectural ‘style’. Finally, the participants collected a great number of pictures reflecting on their individual view on African Modernism and it’s sociocultural impact. Since the workshop was part of the African Modernism project 2018, a selection of photographs taken by the participants will be shown in the traveling exhibition African Modernism, researched and curated by Manuel Herz and co-curated by Doreen Adengo.

During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, most countries of Sub-Saharan Africa gained their independence. Architecture became one of the principal means with which the young nations expressed their national identity. Parliament buildings, central banks, stadiums, conference centers, universities and independence memorials were constructed, often featuring heroic and daring designs. The architecture in the capital cities of countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ghana or Senegal still represents some of the best examples of the 60s and 70s architecture worldwide. Nevertheless, it has received little attention and still remains to be ‘rediscovered’. At the same time, this architecture also shows the difficulties, contradictions, and dilemmas that the countries experienced in their independence process: In most cases, the architects were not local. In the case of Kampala, the architects were from the U.K, South Africa and Israel. The aim of the workshop was not to view the buildings as a monument of a bygone era, but rather, to see how they have adapted over time, and are now a part of the contemporary city. In this framework, the participants were confronted with three questions/ tasks which were also the focus of their independent group work:

1. What is ‘Modernist Architecture’/ ‘African Modernism’?

2. Explore the relationship between Photography and Architecture

3. How to develop a narrative. How does one choose the story to tell?

As the first workshop day went by, the participants were prepared for their initial day of fieldwork. Not only did they receive an extensive introduction from Manuel Herz and Doreen Adengo but they also were able to get into a discussion about African Modernism in Kampala and the selected buildings that were to be photographed by the different groups of participants. The story behind the buildings was a main aspect of the introduction phase and gave the group a solid basis for their further work process. 

From the second to the fourth day the participants went to their assigned buildings and worked on their photographs in groups of two to three people. The field work was accompanied by further tutorials by James Muriuki, as well as reviews and group discussions at GZK/ UGCS. This very productive fourth day was rounded off by UPPA’s  ‘Photographers Talk’ with James Muriuki, which gave a very detailed insight into his creative processes and his evolvement as an artist. 

Finally, on the last day of the workshop, the different groups came together for a final review which led them to bring together a well selected collection of photographs exhibited in an Open Studio at the GZK/ UGCS Conference Room. In the evening the public was invited to take a look at the selected photographs as the different workshop groups presented their diverse collections. At the end of the end our facilitators, participants and visitors came toegther for a Closing party celebrating these productive five days which were a great success for everyone involved.

In addition to the work of designer and photographer Timothy Latim, the workshop collection will be part of an additional ‘Kampala section’ in the upcoming African Modernism exhibition starting on November 15th, 2018.