Art Safari finally comes to Kampala
Kampala, Uganda | DOMINIC MUWANGUZI | The East Africa Art Biennale (EASTAFAB) is finally coming to Kampala. It’s happening in February under the theme, ‘Moving art across borders’. Biennales (Italian for `every other year’), are typically large international art exhibitions held in most cities around the world. The EASTAFAB is based in Dar- es-Salaam where it was first held in 2003.
When the Fifth EASTAFAB in 2012 moved across East Africa but did not take place in Kampala, Ugandan organisers con- jured up an alternative art exhibition; KLA ART 012. After two seasons, however, it folded and local artists felt left with limited prospects of being noticed by an interna- tional audience. But others saw opportunity and swiftly moved to give birth to the Kam- pala Art Biennale that has since invited art- ists from the region and beyond to Kampala to produce works that push the boundaries of art making.
Also known loosely as the Art Safari, EASTAFAB will travel to Kampala by truck, after staging in regional cities like Dar-es- Salaam, Arusha, and Nairobi. The idea is for the Biennale to promote cultural integration between East African countries through art.
Since its inception in 2003, the multi- disciplinary EASTAFAB has been a podium for both upcoming and established artists to showcase art to diverse audiences across the region. As part of this benefit of cultural exchange, in subsequent years, a series of exhibitions have been organised across the borders of these countries. The Tigatinga exhibition involving Tanzanian modernist and contemporary artists that was mounted at AKA gallery in Kampala in March 2017 is an example. Conversely, Ugandan artists like Anwar Sadat Nakibinge, Jjuuko Hood, Collin Sekajungo and Ismael Kateregga have held either solo or group exhibitions in Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, and Kigali.
In an attempt to build links between regional artists and inspire cultural exchange, the biennale also highlights the vibrancy of the East Africa art scene. Through its nature; accepting multi-dis- ciplinary artworks like painting, sculpture, video art, digital art and installations, the festival demands that artists are creative and innovative.
The resultant diverse exploration in tech- nique and style positions artists from the region in the global art world and the ste- reotype type “African art” being primitive art debunked.
Participating artists and organisations involved have an opportunity to broaden their knowledge on art making and man- agement which sustains the art scene.
The EASTAFAB is a non-profit associa- tion registered by the Tanzania National Arts Council (BASATA). The East Africa Biennale will take place in Kampala from Feb. 02 to 08at AKA gallery. It is supported by the Goethe Zentrum Kampala, Alliance Francaise Kampala and AKA gallery.
Ugandan artists who have participated previously in the East Africa Art Biennale include, Eria Sane Nsubuga, Ahmed Abush- ariaa, Ronex and Henry Mzili Mujunga.