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VISIONARY AFRICA – Art at Work in Kampala

September 5, 2012



in Kampala, Uganda.

September 19 –
October 14, 2012,

Kampala Train station


Visionary Africa – Art at Work is an itinerant urban exhibition of contemporary African artistic practices organized by the European Commission jointly with the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Centre for Fine Arts) in Brussels and in cooperation with the African Union, including artist residencies, showcases of local artists, and workshops on art and development in modern urban centers in Africa. As several African countries celebrate their 50th independence anniversary, the Exhibition’s intent is to focus on the importance of culture and creativity as a motor for development. The aim is to further provide, through the work of artists, a snapshot of transformations that have occurred on the African continent during the last half century, as well as put its future development into perspective.

Ghanaian architect David Adjaye has designed the exhibition pavilion installed in the gardens opposite the Kampala Railway Station, which will house several exhibits, free to the public:

  • Pan-African photography, from the exhibit A Useful Dream, celebrating 50 years of African photography, curated by Simon Njami;
  • The photo-documentary, Urban Africa, a decade long personal survey by David Adjaye on the architecture of African capitals;
  • Traces and Routes, a showcase of Ugandan photographic archives and contemporary photographies co-curated by Katrin Peters-Klaphake, curator of the Makerere Art Gallery/IHCR, and Margaret Nagawa, independent curator.

    Traces and Routes
    Photographs are about memories, both personal and collective, about a particular moment in time seen by a particular person. Yet, in looking at them we bring in our own experiences, knowledge and memories. We recall the light of a moment, a smell from our youth, or feelings of joy or sorrow.  Over the last century images of Uganda’s history and culture were captured by explorers, colonialists and by ourselves. As for most African countries Uganda’s journey since independence 50 years ago, in 1962, has been rocky and shaken by political and social commotions. Questions of identity are viral in this culturally diverse country and the traces of past experiences shape the people and the society on their way to new routes. Uganda’s many faces are exemplified here: political and cultural landmarks, education, leisure and intellectual pursuits, urban and rural existence, as well as economic developments. This exhibition is about re-reading images and events, about different gazes, stories and histories.

    Edward Echwalu, Okujo Joel Atiku Prynce, Rumanzi Canon, Bwette Daniel Gilbert, Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar, Peter Tukei, History in Progress Uganda – photographs from Kaddu Wasswa archive, Deo Kyakulagira/Central Art Studio Limited, Gayaza High School archive

All works exhibited are reproductions.

Furthermore, the project includes a regional conference on the role of art and architecture in urban development (18 September), led by David Adjaye and Joe Addo; and a workshop for Ugandan artists on education, structures and projects for art (20 September), led by Simon Njami.

Finally, the project proposes an artist residency for an African artist from another region. Freddy Tsimba, sculptor from DRC, will spend three weeks in Kampala, working on a new project inspired by the city and its artists, to be donated to Uganda upon completion.

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